IT is "imperative" that the entire legal profession collaborates to combat depression, the country's first legal officer said last night.
The Attorney General, Robert McClelland, was speaking at the Tristan Jepson memorial lecture, held at law firm Freehills in Sydney.
In a speech outlining how to overcome the problem and prevalence of depression, he announced the government would provide $10,000 to assist the work of the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation.
"Obviously I am not a clinician, but it is nevertheless clear that there is a role for me, and for all lawyers, in changing our attitudes towards depression."
McClelland cited Professor Ian Hickie from the Brain & Mind Institute at the University of Sydney's findings that 40 per cent of law students are said to suffer from anxiety and depression.
"With their courage and confidence undermined, they are, as a group, less likely to seek treatment and more likely to suffer in isolation."
McClelland referred to an Australian Law Students Association handbook, published for law students, "which tackles depression on several fronts".
"This represents a serious and constructive attempt by law students to make a difference in the lives of their peers," he said.
The Attorney General encourage the audience to look closely at their own mental state, the metal health of their colleagues and to "promote a healthy work/ life balance. We must take proactive steps if we are to overcome depression in the legal profession".