10 October marks World Mental Health Day, a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy.
Mental Health Australia’s website lists the objectives for World Mental Health Day in Australia as:
- Encourage help-seeking behaviour;
- Reduce the stigma associated with mental illness;
- Foster connectivity throughout communities;
- Achieving these goals by encouraging people to take personal ownership of their own mental health and well-being.
The legal profession and mental health
The legal profession is not immune from mental health issues, in fact we are one profession that suffers acutely from depression and anxiety for a number of reasons. In 2009, the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of New South Wales published a research paper called Courting the Blues: Attitudes towards depression in Australian law students and legal practitioners.
The findings published confirm other international research findings to the effect that law students and lawyers exhibit ‘high levels of psychological distress and risk of depression compared with Australian community norms and other tertiary student groups. Participants also revealed a number of attitudes and behaviours which imply a general reluctance to seek help for mental health issues.’
Love Law, Live Life
The Queensland Law Society has developed a dedicated website called called Love Law, Life Life that aims to provide practitioners with resources to assist with resilience and mental health and well-being resources. Practitioners in rural areas and sole practitioners often don’t have the access to resources or treatment that practitioners in larger metropolitan areas have.
The Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation
The Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation is an independent volunteer, charitable organisation named for Tristan Jepson, a law graduate who tragically took his own life after battling with depression. The Foundation’s objective is to educate lawyers about depression and aims decrease work related psychological ill-health in the legal community and to promote workplace psychological health and safety.
The Foundation has recently launched Best Practice Guidelines to promote psychologically healthy legal workplaces.
Beyond Blue was established in October 2000 as a national five-year initiative to create a community response to depression. It is now one of Australia’s peak community education bodies aiming to educate the community about depression and anxiety. Beyond Blue has a number of programs and has recently launched a program called Stop. Think. Respect. aimed at reducing racism.
The Stop. Think. Respect. campaign could easily be extended to all areas to assist in terms of awareness of depression and anxiety. No-one should be made to feel like a they are worthless, unwanted, or unappreciated simply because they are different or because they suffer from a depression, anxiety or other forms of mental illness.
Stop. Think. Respect.
No one should be made to feel like crap, just for being who they are!