Minter Ellison consulted with Beyond Blue to help the firm recognise signs of depression in its lawyers.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly ahead of a major forum on workplace health hosted by the firm today (16 June), Minters partner Kristy Edser said the former Victorian Premier and Beyond Blue chairman, Jeff Kennett, was consulted in the formation of the firm's "Resilient ME program". Launched in 2010, this aims to provide support services to lawyers showing signs of depression and stress.
"The whole industry knows there's an issue," said Edser. "People have always been scared to put their hands up and talk about it but this program is changing the mindset."
Edser added that the Minters program targeted prevention and awareness, with employees having access to "skills sessions" to help identify symptoms of depression and stress in themselves or others.
Managers and partners at the received training from Beyond Blue in 2009 and a 12-week graduate program entitled "Life Skills" was offered to graduates entering the firm. The program included topics on communication, mental health in the workplace and crisis support
"Graduates love it - they are becoming big supporters of it- and mental health is becoming something they are happy and comfortable to talk about," said the firm's HR manager, Evette Tattam.
Events and sessions are circulated through the firm's intranet and newsletters including meditation and yoga programs, medication access sessions, relationships at home and fun and humour in the workplace.
Minter Ellison also works with an 'employee assistance partner', an external counselling body, which comes in and run sessions on a range of topics to promote resilient lifestyle habits and relationships.
Minter Ellison hosted more than 40 organisational members of the Workplace Health Promotion Network for its annual member's forum in Sydney.
Blake Dawson, and Mallesons Stephen Jaques are also financial members of the organisation.
Speakers at this morning's forum included Krystyna McIntosh, Minters' OHS consultant, ad representatives from Telstra, Ramsay Health, MediBank Health Solutions and St Vincent's and Mater Health Sydney.
The event featured case-studies from Network members and a panel discussion on the appropriate role and focus of workplace well being programs. The importance of training managers about their role in injury management, especially psychological injury, was also discussed.
It is estimated that one in five Australian employees develop symptoms of mental illness each year.
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