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LawCare’s 20th anniversary celebration and conference, Making Mental Health Matter at the Town Hall Hotel in London on Tuesday 10 October, brought together over 70 attendees from across the legal community and jurisdictions. The half-day conference provided an opportunity to stimulate thinking about why mental health matters in the legal community, and was followed by a party with cake and a short speech from vice-chair, Robert Venables.
Mr Venables outlined the history of LawCare, which has moved from being a charity with the limited remit of supporting solicitors with addiction and related problems, to one that offers help to the whole profession throughout the UK and Ireland on a wide range of issues encompassing, amongst others, stress, depression, anxiety and bullying at work.
Making Mental Health Matter echoed the theme of this year’s World Mental Health day – mental health at work – with speakers and panellists addressing the audience from a range of perspectives. Professor Richard Collier of Newcastle Law School set the scene with what is currently known about mental health in the legal profession; Chris Parsons, Chairman of the India Practice of Herbert Smith Freehills, shared his personal story of mental health issues, and Jo Loughran, Director of Operations at Time to Change, spoke of how the campaign helps organisations to change the way they act and feel about mental health.
In the afternoon Alex Aldridge, publisher of Legal Cheek, was in conversation with Lizzie Lockett, Acting CEO of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, about the success of Mind Matters, the programme they have put in place to help people in their profession who are experiencing mental health issues.
Last, but not least, there was a very engaging panel discussion hosted by Eduardo Reyes, Features Editor of the Law Society Gazette. Eduardo drew out the organisational approaches to mental health from Nigel Jones, Chair of City Mental Health Alliance and a partner in Linklaters, Bryan Scant from the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society of England and Wales, Kirsty Hood from the Scottish Faculty of advocates, and Antoinette Moriarty of the Law School of Ireland Counselling Service. This was a lively and enlightening session, which drew many questions from the floor.
“We are very pleased with the day, and all the positive feedback we’ve had,” says Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of LawCare. “We’re inspired by the participants’ motivation to work together, and with us, to continue to raise awareness about why mental health matters in the legal community, to promote the benefits of good mental health in the workplace, and to ensure that those in need of help and support know how and where to find it.”