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ANU hosts crisis council on lawyers’ mental health

user iconFelicity Nelson 27 January 2015 SME Law
ANU hosts crisis council

Courtesy of Paolo Mastrangelo/Flickr

The National Wellness for Law Forum next month will focus on strategies to prevent student and practitioner mental illness and improve workplace culture.

The conference, to be held 5-6 February, will take place at the Australian National University (ANU).

The forum, which is an annual event organised by the Wellness Network for Law, has been running since 2012.

This year the theme is Wellness in Legal Education and Practice: Towards Integration and New Connections.

Highlights will include a keynote address by Associate Professor Rachael Field from the Queensland University of Technology.

Field will speak on the topic: ‘The Wellness Network for Law 5 Years On: Highlights, Future Directions and Interrogating the Imperative for Action’.

A number of seminars will run over the two days, including: ‘Great Expectations and Woeful Disappointments in Law’, facilitated by Corinne Tan; ‘Wellness and Junior Lawyer Reality: Is it Possible to Walk the Dogs and Work 16 Hour Days?’ hosted by Joanne Purcell; and ‘…Even When No One Is Watching: The Integrity of Wellbeing, run by Colin James.

The conference will investigate international perspectives on wellbeing in the law and discuss how to integrate work being done in different sectors, such as law schools, commercial law firms and the judiciary.

Lawyers Weekly recently reported on a national survey conducted by UNSW, which showed that 32 per cent of lawyers suffer moderate to severe depression.

Many of the lawyers surveyed said the wellbeing programs to which they had been exposed at work only scratched the surface of the profession’s mental health issues.

Similarly, 41 per cent of law students have reported symptoms of psychological distress severe enough to indicate clinical assessment.

Recent comments from Lawyers Weekly readers indicated that there were numerous reasons for the high levels of stress, depression and anxiety amongst law students, including high expectations, personality and a lack of support.