Mental illness is the leading cause of sickness and absence from work and like many other sectors, the health and well-being of people working in the legal sector is something that needs addressing. According to research 66% of solicitors feel high levels of stress in their jobs, and each year in the UK, 70 million workdays are lost to mental illness.
According to the recent ‘Stress in the Legal Profession: Problematic or Inevitable’ report by LexisNexis, legal professionals feel as though a level of stress comes with the territory. 75% of respondents were concerned that stress and mental well-being is a major issue that needs addressing in the legal sector. Over a quarter of respondents feel that more needs to be done to help and support colleagues struggling to cope with the rigours of the job. These startling statistics show that people feel more confident talking about well-being in the legal sector but feel more needs to be done to address the issue.
The health and well-being of legal service professionals has started deteriorating in recent years. Lawcare, a charity promoting and supporting good mental health for all in the legal community witnessed a surge of calls being made to their helpline in 2018.
The helpline received 932 calls in 2018. Of these calls, the majority were concerned about their mental health. 26% felt stressed by their jobs and 19% were starting to feel depressed. 11% of callers were anxious about their jobs and the service they are providing.
Almost half of all the calls received (48%) were made by legal professionals with less than five years’ qualified experience. The Junior Lawyers Division’s resilience and well-being survey also found a huge number of younger legal professionals struggling with work related mental health issues. This research clearly shows that the well-being of people in the legal sector spans all knowledge ranges and doesn’t discriminate between the newly qualified and the more experienced lawyer.
93% of respondents reported feeling stressed in their role the month before they completed the survey. Over a quarter of qualified members surveyed felt severely or extremely stressed.
The survey classed stress as being under too much emotional or mental pressure. When almost all of young legal professionals feel this way, it is clear that more should be done to improve the working conditions in the sector.
77% of respondents believe that their firm could do more to support those with stress at work with 87% looking for their employer to provide more guidance and support when it comes to mental ill health.
Whilst the call from those within the profession is looking to employers to do more, the reports also found that the majority of legal service providers are happy in their jobs, finding stress to be an unavoidable consequence of carrying out such an important service.
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