New campaign urges legal profession to "Look Deeper"

New campaign urges legal profession to

New campaign urges legal profession to "Look Deeper"

10 September 2015

In partnership with not-for-profit organisation R U OK?, 18 law firms have formed and funded an alliance to develop a new campaign called “Look Deeper”, which aims to promote mental wellbeing and connectedness in the legal community.

With lawyers four times more likely to experience depression than other professionals1, the new campaign aims to address the cultural and individual impediments inhibiting people from offering support, or asking for it.

The "Look Deeper" campaign urges members of the profession to look beneath the surface and have meaningful conversations.

R U OK? General Manager Brendan Maher said “We’ve found that many legal professionals feel the need to deflect enquiries into their emotional or mental wellbeing, in case it’s perceived as a poor reflection on their abilities and competence,” Brendan said. “Phrases like ‘Fine thanks’, ‘All good’ and ‘Never been better’ can sometimes be used to brush off the question ‘Are you ok?’” This campaign addresses the importance of not accepting these responses at face value and encourages them to look deeper.”

Partner, Peter Butler, at Herbert Smith Freehills, who was instrumental in initiating the "Resilience@Law Campaign” says the profession approached R U OK? because it needed a strategy that would target peers, as well as complement the progress already being made at a leadership and management level.

“Many firms have already adopted policies and practices to support someone facing adversity in their professional or home life, and have signed up to the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation Psychological Wellbeing Guidelines2,” Peter said. “However, we want to help the profession with the uptake of internal support by reducing the stigma and shame attached to asking for help. We aim to do this by reinforcing the responsibility we all have to support our peers by appropriately and sensitively talking about challenges they might be facing.”

Chairman of the National Mental Health Commission, Professor Allan Fels, has endorsed the campaign and urged all firms to get involved.

“The higher than average rates of depression and the associated stigma in the legal profession are well documented,” Professor Fels said. “I applaud the collaborative efforts of the profession to tackle this issue, reduce the stigma, and implement a campaign that aims to foster attitudinal and behavioural change at all levels.”

Do you want to look deeper? The campaign features the stories and insights of individuals who have either overcome tough times with the support of others, or supported someone to do so. It includes monthly video and email content, as well as postcards and posters.

You can get behind the campaign and access resources for free at www.lookdeeper.org.au.

1 http://www.beatonglobal.com/pdfs/2011_Annual_Business_and_Professions_Study.pdf

2 TJMF Psychological Wellbeing: Best Practice Guidelines for the Legal Profession are intended for use by all within the Australian legal profession, including students, sole practitioners, barristers, in-house legal counsel, practitioners within law firms of all sizes, and the judiciary to promote a psychologically healthy workplace.

ENDS

For more information contact: Kristie Fankhauser, Director BDM on +61 7 3323 8876 or kfankhauser@mccullough.com.au.

About McCullough Robertson
McCullough Robertson is a leading Australian independent law firm with industry experts combining legal expertise with deep industry knowledge and foresight.  The firm provides innovative, relevant and commercial legal solutions to major corporate, government and high net worth individuals across Australia and internationally.  Established in 1926, the firm’s major focus areas are the resources (mining and energy), food and agribusiness, technology, telecommunications, health, life sciences, real estate and financial services sector

Alliance members
Allens Linklaters, Ashurst, Baker & McKenzie, Clayton Utz, Colin Biggers & Paisley, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, DibbsBarker, Gilbert + Tobin, Henry Davis York, Herbert Smith Freehills, Holding Redlich, King & Wood Mallesons, Maddocks, McCullough Robertson, MinterEllison, Norton Rose Fulbright, Russell Kennedy Lawyers and Sparke Helmore Lawyers.

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