Is there anything special about this Thursday 1 February? You may not know, but it is “Talk Thursday”. We all talk day in day out, but do we really talk and do we really listen. Talk Thursday is to raise awareness of mental health. Whilst mental health is talked about more than in previous years, there is still plenty to be done.
Looking at the legal industry there is a lack of understanding about mental health, lots of firms talk about the culture of their firms, does this go far enough?
You will have seen recently in the Law Society Gazette about a young lady who was before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal where they had shown “mercy” on her due to the bullying and harassing culture within her firm. She had been put under such pressure, that both her physical health and mental well-being had suffered. It utterly saddens me that in this instance people knew what was happening yet nothing was done.
I know of a situation in a London firm where one of the senior members of staff had a drink problem and a lot of his colleagues just thought it was funny every time. Not one of those people looked at the issues behind the problem to support him.
No one knows what is going on in someone’s life and it’s not a question of being a busy body, it’s about looking out for the signs and enabling someone to get the appropriate help if they need it. Quite often people who are suffering with mental health issues, need someone to talk to and to be listened to. When I say listen, I really do mean that, not just go through the motions of a welfare meeting that HR can tick off their list.
Supporting the individual to overcome what they are going through. In the case of the young lady before the SDT, she had tried to seek assistance and the supervisors and managers were not prepared to help, in fact they put more pressure on her.
Please spend some time, thinking about what you can do as an individual, a manager, a supervisor, a colleague and a firm. Bring in the right culture and fit, support your staff and lead by example.
Open your eyes to what may be happening and TALK THURSDAY! In fact don’t just do talk Thursday, Talk every day – It will make a difference.