Law Society of Scotland launches mental health action plan

Following on from our item last month about mental health awareness “LawCare and Mental Health Awareness Week“, we can report that the Law Society of Scotland has launched a three-year action plan that aims to tackle stigma around mental health in the legal sector.

A survey of Scotland’s legal profession on their views of mental health in the workplace in 2019 found that over three-quarters of respondents (77%) wanted a better understanding of the problems to help them provide support whilst more than half of respondents also said that training for managers (62%) and staff (54%) would be beneficial to improve workplace culture.

On the subject of whether legal professionals felt they could discuss such issues at work, the survey found that:

  • 46% of respondents believed opportunities for staff to have open and honest conversations about mental health would create a more positive attitude;
  • 39% of respondents felt the senior leaders in their organisation show their commitment to staff mental health;
  • 47% felt confident about holding a conversation about reasonable adjustments; and
  • 39% of respondents believed line managers understood and adopted reasonable adjustments.

Almost a quarter of the respondents (24%) had observed or were aware of stigmatising attitudes to mental health and 23% also said they had observed or were aware of discrimination within their own organisations.

In response to the survey findings, the Law Society of Scotland has set out a seven-step framework for change including:

  • working with leaders across the sector to create a more open culture,
  • promoting mental health engagement and awareness campaigns, and
  • developing the existing Lawscot Wellbeing online portal as a one-stop-shop for all resources.

It also intends to emphasise the importance of training in this area to improve understanding and will encourage managers to assess their own organisation’s training needs to be able to make improvements. A second survey will also be carried out in three years’ time to monitor progress.

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