Mental Health in the Workplace

December 2021

Last week we were very pleased to welcome Richard Martin of byne.dean once again for our Mental health in the Workplace virtual presentation. Richard Martin leads the mental health practice at byrne.dean, advising businesses on creating cultures in which people understand and feel able to talk about their mental health.

Once again we were joined by nearly 60 General Counsel and senior in-house lawyers and their colleagues to hear not only Richard talk honestly and openly about his personal story, but also how important mental health programmes are within workplaces and how businesses can start to implement these.

One of the strongest pieces of advice Richard was able to offer was around awareness. Anyone can become ill as a result of poor mental health and there is evidence to suggest that the legal profession has one of the highest levels of mental illness of any sector. With this in mind, it’s so important for the profession to make strikes towards becoming happier and healthier in order for it thrive. Raising awareness and gaining buy-in in the boardroom and at the highest level is crucial for a programme to be successful. If the tone is set at the top, attitudes will filter down and allow broader discussions to take place across the business. It is fair to say that attitudes have changed immensely over the last 5-10 years as awareness has increased and businesses are beginning to see the benefits. Fundamentally, businesses save money and can be more successful. Not only is there a reduction in absenteeism and less time spent on non-work related matters but these programmes produce happier work places which ultimately make a business a much more enjoyable place to work; employees will stay longer and the brand becomes more attractive to potential recruits.

Practical tips for businesses

The best way to get a programme started is to get talking internally. Given the subject is far less taboo than it used to be, it is not as difficult as it once was to find advocates within a business. Richard argued that if you are trying to get a programme rolled out you will always be able to find a group of employees who are enthusiastic to spearhead it. There are several national campaigns that can be used as a way of gaining initial impetus. For example, the Green Ribbon campaign, This is Me and World Mental Health Day. Ultimately, the best thing a business can do is talk. Build an open workplace and encourage everyone to check in on each other. Simply asking someone “How are you really?” can go a long way.

We would like to thank everyone who has attended our presentations and we hope you have found them helpful. Please do get in touch if you would like to hear more about our latest events for the legal sector.