The legal profession must begin dealing with the mental health crisis plaguing its ranks. Legal professionals are required to be hard-working and meticulous, but many are workaholics obsessed with perfection who rarely have time for life outside work. As a result, statistics on mental health issues in the legal profession are alarming. A Johns Hopkins University study found that lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to be depressed when compared to people in other jobs. The ABA and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation study from 2016 shows that of licensed, employed lawyers:
- 21% have problems with alcohol,
- 28% struggle with varying levels of depression, and
- 19% suffer from symptoms of anxiety.
These numbers won’t be surprising to many legal professionals – especially personal injury firms. Ignoring mental health issues can damage your team and your firm. Read on to see 5 issues your firm could suffer and how to address them.
If team members are seriously suffering at work, you can expect an increase in sick leave and a general lack of motivation. This means that remaining team members will need to pull the weight of their colleagues. This, obviously, can add to more suffering for other teammates, as well as missed deadlines, a large backlog, and resentment.
Burnout is more than just feeling tired or overburdened. It’s also feeling cynical and unmotivated about work, resulting in pulling away from tasks and colleagues. For personal injury lawyers, losing that sense of worth is problematic because the root of your work is improving clients’ lives. If clients feel unsupported by your team, that will affect your reputation and income.
Unhappy employees leave. A constantly changing team can’t collaborate effectively or develop a rhythm. This is demoralizing for those who stay. It also creates an endless recruitment cycle, putting more pressure on your time and budget.
Mental heal issues in the legal profession result in teams that don’t perform at their best. When properly addressed, staff members feel confident and worthy in their work, firms operate at a higher efficiency level leading to more success.
Loss of profits
All of these points ultimately lead to bad business for your firm. Team members who feel unappreciated won’t be motivated to increase their productivity. A workforce that keeps changing with no opportunity to gel as a team will never get the chance to collaborate in a profitable way.
How can you improve your staff’s mental health?
It is important to instill a sense of value within each individual team member. They need to know that they are people first, and legal professionals second.
Get talking: A common problem with lawyers and mental health is acknowledging there is an issue in the first place. Having regular ‘open office’ hours may help get the ball rolling for communication. If your team is reluctant at first, start a roster where everyone gets ten minutes to talk to their manager about anything: it doesn’t even have to be about work.
Advocate for mindfulness: Encourage team members to explore mindfulness in the form of journaling, yoga, meditation, etc. There are numerous apps and online options, with several under-5-minute exercises.
Healthy eating: Find a local restaurant that does healthy food and ask for lunch deals they can offer your firm. A healthy diet has been proven to help productivity at work.
Get training: Invest in mental health initiatives for you and your staff. The Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) offers regular courses improving staff wellbeing, with many different approaches.
Unburden your staff: Legal support services like Lexvia can assist your team by taking on routine, burdensome tasks, giving you more time to focus on urgent tasks and team welfare.