LawCare - Mental Health: Are we Thriving or Surviving?

LawCare - Mental Health: Are we Thriving or Surviving?

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Mental Health: Are We Thriving or Surviving?

We all have mental health, just as we have physical health. Mental healthincludes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. 

Mental healthissues range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life, to serious long-term conditions. It can be easy to dismiss mental health problems as something that happen to other people, but research shows that 1 in 4 of us will experience them each year. And the legal community is no exception.
 
Many legal professionals are reluctant to talk openly about mental health in the workplace, for fear they may be perceived as weak or not coping with the demands of their role. At LawCare we know that talking is an important first step in changing the way we think and act about mental health. We want to get the legal community talking about mental health so that anyone who has a problem can get support.
 
The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 8 -14, is Surviving or Thriving? and this year, rather than asking why so many people are living with mental health problems, the aim is to uncover why too few of us are thriving with good mental health. Good mental health is more than the absence of a mental health problem: people are struggling to cope with the demands of life, and are stuck on getting through the day.
 
In terms of thriving, resilience is now recognised as an important factor in the workplace. In the increasingly demanding and changing legal environment, resilience is important in order to thrive. Resilience is defined as the ability to resist or bounce back from adversity, and in any workplace there will be people who thrive on challenges and difficulties, while others will find it hard to cope with unexpected change or problems. If someone finds it hard to forge ahead when things go wrong, the good news is that we can all learn how to develop resilience, and it’s not that difficult.
 
Highly resilient people are flexible, adapt to new circumstances quickly, and thrive in times of constant change. Most importantly, they expect to bounce back, and feel confident that they will. That expectation is closely linked to a general sense of optimism, and finding the positive aspects in most situations is a skill that can be evolved: the right mental attitude to cope, and even flourish, when the going gets tough, can be developed.
  
Ten tips to build resilience:
  • Learn to see challenges, mistakes and failures as valuable learning experiences

  • Give ourselves a pat on the back when things go well. Be kind and forgive ourselves when things go wrong

  • Don’t give in to negative thoughts. Challenge them, and ask whether they are true or realistic

  • Use humour to defuse and downplay difficulties. We can laugh at ourselves and situations

  • Be flexible. Recognise that nothing stays the same, especially in the workplace

  • Take care of physical and mental health. Get enough sleep, exercise and eat well. When our physical self is in good shape, we are less fragile

  • Take time off work, use holiday entitlements and take breaks during the working day

  • Recognise that a bad situation is usually temporary

  • Build a support network. Make time for friends and family who offer encouragement and strength. Consult supportive work colleagues

  • Don’t extrapolate one bad situation into another unrelated situation. We can’t be good at everything, recognise areas of strength

Attitude and perspective are fundamental to building resilience: paying attention to strengths and how to develop them, learning to accept that things won’t always go well, focusing on what is working rather than what’s not, and we will all be on our way to thriving, rather than just surviving.

We need to come together as a legal community, to raise awareness and understanding of mental health, in order to create healthier and more supportive working environments for lawyers. Although attitudes are changing, the fact remains that many people feel unable to raise mental health problems at work, and we need to do something about this.

 

Organisations are only as strong as their people, and a healthy and productive workforce where staff feel valued and supported, will be more committed to the organisation’s goals and perform better in their jobs. Mental health matters.

 

LawCare supports and promotes good mental health and wellbeing across the legal community. We understand life in the law, and have helped thousands of legal professionals cope with a range of issues. Our key support service is our free, confidential and independent helpline, and our trained staff and volunteers listen and support with any issues. Call 0800 279 6888 or visit www.lawcare.org.uk

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