Calls to legal mental health helpline increase on last year, with almost half made by junior solicitors

updated on 31 January 2018

The legal mental health charity LawCare has reported has reported that calls to its helpline have increased by 11% on last year.

Workplace stress was cited as the reason for calling by 27% of those who contacted the helpline, while depression accounted for almost a fifth (17%) of calls. Other reasons for lawyers calling the helpline included anxiety, bereavement, financial problems, harassment and bullying, and disciplinary concerns.

A large majority of callers were women (65%), while almost half (45%) of all callers were trainee or junior solicitors.

Elizabeth Rimmer, LawCare’s chief executive, commented that one reason for the rise in the number of calls from lawyers concerned about their mental health is that there is now greater awareness in the profession of such issues and the help available. She commented: “When more people are talking about mental health, it is easier for us to point the way for people to be more open about what is concerning them. Often people contact us when they reach crisis point – we would like to see them avoid that.”

At the same time, LawCare has also called for firms to reconsider their cultures where high-pressure, long-hours working and management practices are often undeniably detrimental to employees’ mental health. As Legal Futures reports, a survey of City lawyers by consultancy Fides Search found that client demands are the biggest obstacle to mental wellbeing in the legal workplace, according to 36% of respondents. The next biggest obstacle, cited by 27% of respondents, was billable hours targets, while other concerns included the need to sacrifice work-life balance in order to be promoted and the demands placed on partners preventing them from considering the wellbeing of their juniors.

The number for the LawCare helpline is 0800 279 6888.