The legal profession has another weapon in the fight against depression following last night's (7 July) launch of the official Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation (TJMF) website.
Held at the NSW Law Society, the launch attracted many from the legal community including foundation patron Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery and NSW Law Society president Mary Macken.
The foundation's chairperson and host of the evening, Hon Keith Mason AC QC, told the gathering that the Foundation's primary objective is to decrease distress, disability and the causes of depression and anxiety in the legal profession.
"The Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation was launched by Marie and George Jepson following the tragic death of their son Tristan, a talented young lawyer, who took his life as a result of depression," he said.
"The Jepson's wanted to raise awareness of the incidence of depression in the legal profession and to do something about it."
Mason highlighted some staggering figures emerging from research conducted by the Brain and Mind Institute's 2008 survey of lawyers and law students, which found that over 35 per cent of law students suffer high to very high levels of psychological distress, and almost 40 per cent reported distress severe enough to require medical or clinical intervention.
A significant proportion of lawyers also suffer elevated levels of anxiety and depression, said Mason, with 31 per cent experiencing high to very high levels of psychological distress.
It is these figures that the Foundation hopes to reduce, if not eradicate.
"We believe that the more information, education and resources available to people experiencing stress or depression, the better the outcome for everyone - the people themselves, their family, their community. From awareness and education comes action," said Mason.
"The conversations started by Mr and Mrs Jepson, in their private grief, are thankfully continuing on a much broader scale today. They are now beginning to involve the wider circles of affected people before problems strike in particular situations."
Since the Foundation's inception in 2008, it has strived to boost awareness of depression and anxiety amongst the legal fraternity and has focused establishing itself as a hub of information relating to depression and anxiety.
You can visit the website at www.tjmf.org.au