MALLESONS Stephen Jaques is promoting a mental health campaign this week which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues in the workplace.
Yesterday, 15 September, marked national R U OK? Day, which encourages people to take the time simply to ask a colleague if they're alright.
According to the charity R U OK, workplace stress is a huge contributory factor to mental illness.
There are some terrifying statistics on the issue of suicide, spurring this national day in Australia. News.com reports that at least 21,000 Australians take their lives every year. For every person who succeeds, another 30 attempt suicide.
The legal profession, not always known for its openness and certainly known for suffering from stress, is disproportionately affected by depression and other mental health issues.
If lawyers are concerned about speaking out for fear of undermining their careers, this initiative should help relieve the stigma. But the question remains whether the one-day-only campaign will see more lawyers asking each other whether they are OK.
Mallesons wellbeing manager, Vicki Irvine, has emailed all staff at the firm to encourage them to take part, Courier Mail reports.
"It could be a family member, it could be a work colleague, it could be a friend. And we're encouraging managers to ask their staff how they are," she said.
"Our message also includes 'it's ok not to be OK, and here's where you can go for help'. It's about getting that message out."
A 2009 Sydney University study found psychological distress and risk of depression was rife among law students and the legal profession, compared to the rest of the community.
Irvine said a major issue in the legal profession is that people do not feel safe to speak up.
"The thing for lawyers is that their tool is their mind so if it's not quite right they are apprehensive about coming forward and asking for help," she said.
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