Solicitors train in Mental Health First Aid to promote workplace wellbeing
One in four UK adults suffer from a mental illness – a taboo subject in many workplaces. But one law firm is breaking the silence, and the stigma.
Osborne Morris & Morgan solicitors have appointed three ‘mental health first aiders’ to provide support and guidance for their colleagues. The Leighton Buzzard law firm have trained staff, Paul Lockhart, Stephanie Hilton and Jemma Wixted, to spot the early signs and symptoms of mental illness and then, if appropriate, signpost to a professional for self-help.
The initiative comes in time for World Mental Health Day today- October 10th. The World Health Organisation (WHO) say that mental health problems are all too common in the workplace and is a leading cause of sickness absence. They state that a staggering 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers around £2.4bn a year.
Whilst the cost of mental ill-health is generally not a financial issue, this can be a persuasive case for any business to get involved in investing to prevent mental illness in the workplace.
Mental ill health does not discriminate. Anyone can experience the effects of stress at work, and in law, there is no exception. Many believe that in the legal profession there is a long way to go alleviate the stigma around mental health.
A survey conducted by The Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) last year showed that more than 90% or respondents had experienced stress in their role, with one in four experiencing ‘severe or extreme’ stress or had suffered from a mental health problem in the past month.
While poor mental health can be a downward spiral, it doesn’t have to be. Various charities and organisations, including MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) England, are stepping in to help.
The organisation was launched in 2007 under the Department of Health: National Institute of Mental Health in England (NIMHE), as part of a National approach to improving public mental health.
MHFA England is the body that provided the Mental Health First Aid training course to Osborne Morris & Morgan.
Practice manager, Paul Lockhart, said of the training;
“Simply put, mental health matters, and here at Osborne Morris & Morgan, we are passionate about demystifying mental illness. We have trained some of our employees by supporting them on an invaluable Mental Health First Aid Training course. This means that we can then provide our employees with help when they need it. While on the course the provider said something that has stuck with me and that was mental health does not affect 1 in 4 people but 1 in 1………, you either have good mental health or bad. We truly feel that mental health in the workplace has never been more important”.
The law firm regularly organise and get involved with fundraising events, to support a number of charities, including MIND, who provide invaluable support for their clients.