Chairman of Beyond Blue and former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett AC this week spoke to a group of South Australian lawyers, urging them to educate themselves about the signs of depression and anxiety.
Speaking to an audience of managing partners, CEOs, sole practitioners and young lawyers, Kennett shared his insights and ideas as part of the Law Society of South Australia's President's Leadership Series.
Law Society president Ralph Bönig, who set out to place a greater emphasis on the wellbeing of lawyers when he took up the leadership position last October, said Kennett's mental health message was "undoubtedly enthusiastically received".
"He delivered his message in an open, frank, yet forceful way," said Bönig.
In his message, Kennett acknowledged the considerable steps that have been taken in the last 10 years to raise public awareness of depression and anxiety, the main contributors to the high rate of depression within the legal profession - such as billable hour pressures and the difficulty lawyers have obtaining work/life balance - as well the stigma that still attaches to mental illness.
Finally, Kennett emphasised the importance of understanding the signs of depression and anxiety and supporting colleagues and friends, highlighting the vulnerability of those members of the profession between the ages of 20 and 30 years old who, according to a recent survey by Beyond Blue and Beaton Consulting, tend to be more fearful of speaking up about their illness.