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Society opens mental health survey of legal sector

13 May 2019

People working in Scotland’s legal sector are being urged to take part in a new survey by the Law Society of Scotland on mental health in the workplace.

Launched today at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May), the research is described by the Society as the first of its kind to be carried out on a sector-wide basis in Scotland. It is being run in partnership with See Me, the national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination.

The survey is open to solicitors, accredited paralegals, paralegals, legal technicians, and all support staff working at law firms and in-house legal teams. It will cover respondents' attitudes towards mental health as well as personal experiences, asking about mental health policies and training in the workplace, whether their organisation has a good understanding of the importance of staff mental health and wellbeing and whether they would discuss mental health issues at work without fearing an adverse reaction from their manager or colleagues.

Alison Atack, President of the Law Society of Scotland, commented: “Working in law often involves helping people resolve their problems, but it’s important for legal professionals to remember to take time to deal with anything that could affect their own mental health. At the Law Society, we want to understand more about mental health issues within the whole of the legal sector, which supports around 20,000 jobs in Scotland, and examine what we may need to do to tackle any stigma that exists around mental health in the workplace and ensure people can access support when they need it most.”

Ms Atack said she was proud that the Society was the first professional body in Scotland to initiate a sector-wide survey of this kind. It follows a major research project last year called Profile of the Profession, picking up on some of the issues raised, including whether people feel comfortable asking for reasonable adjustments at work if required, or requesting flexible working.

She continued: “Despite the conversation becoming much more open, the stigma around mental health can still stop people from reaching out and asking for help when they need it, as they worry about how people will react.

“It’s important that we take steps to better understand current attitudes, and I encourage everyone working within the wider legal sector, from the organisation’s most junior colleague to its senior team, to take part and let us know about their views and experiences.”

Calum Irving, See Me director, added: “The workplace is one of the main areas where people experience stigma and discrimination because of their mental health. As Scotland’s Mental Health Strategy highlights, not having a job is the single biggest inequality that people with mental health problems face.

“We want to change the workplace culture around mental health in Scotland, so all staff feel confident enough to speak about how they are feeling and can ask for help if they need it, without the fear that they will be stigmatised and discriminated against.

“So we’re delighted to be working with the Law Society of Scotland as they look to lead the way in making a difference in the legal profession, by working with their members across Scotland, as well as their employees, to improve attitudes and behaviours towards mental health.”

The anonymous, confidential survey will take about 15 minutes to complete and runs until 30 June. The research findings will be used to guide the work of the Law Society’s Lawscot Wellbeing Steering Group.

Click here to access the survey and to find out more about Lawscot Wellbeing.

 

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