With everything that has happened in 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic and significant changes to our every day lives, the focus on our mental health and wellbeing is now perhaps more important than it has ever been.

Mental Health First Aid England have published figures highlighting that issues such as stress, depression and anxiety accounts for 70 million days off sick each year, with a cost to the UK economy of between £70 – £100 billion pounds.

Mental Health is a big issue in the legal profession. Figures established from a recent survey carried out by The Junior Lawyers Division of The Law Society highlighted that 74% of respondents had experienced feeling either regularly or occasionally stressed at work in the month prior to the survey.

77% of respondents thought that their employers could do more to provide help, guidance, and support in relation to stress at work. 38% of respondents did not know of any organisations available to help them if they wanted to discuss stress or mental ill-health at work. These numbers are only bound to increase following a difficult and challenging year for us all.

Mental Health Policy

Against the backdrop of this difficult climate, Attwells have established and implemented a Mental Health & Wellbeing Policy.

There are still a lot of misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental health and our aim is to create a law firm where everyone feels they can talk openly and honestly about how they are feeling and the mental health issues they may be experiencing, to know that they will feel supported and listened to, and to know that there is dedicated help, guidance and resources in place to support them in the workplace.

Members of staff are attending courses to become additional Mental Health First Aiders and Mental Health Champions, training is being scheduled for line managers and all other staff, mental health and wellbeing awareness is being raised and staff are being provided with a range of tools and resources that can be accessed at any time, as well as a range of confidential and supportive ways for staff to contact their mental health first aid team.

This has received a very positive response from colleagues across the firm, and demonstrates that Attwells is an organisation which shows care for their staff members’ health and wellbeing.

In addition to this, Attwells are also looking at ways in which their Employment Law Team can help clients who have experienced discrimination in the workplace due to mental health issues.

The Equality Act 2010 protects people from unfair treatment and discrimination in the workplace due to disability from day one of their employment, with most mental health conditions capable as being classified as a ‘disability’ for this purpose. Furthermore, the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 dictates that employers have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employers, both physical and mental.

If anyone feels that they have experienced discrimination on these grounds and would like some further advice regarding this then please contact Lloyd Clarke, Partner and Head of the Employment Law Team at Attwells on 01206 239761.