24 PEOPLE | LEGAL SECTOR SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHT 2018 PSYCHOLOGICAL WELLBEING Unmanaged workplace stress and unsustainable workloads can impact worker’s physical, mental and social health. Like many professions, law firms rely on their people to function at their best and consistently produce a high-standard of work to be successful. For these professionals to reliably perform at the highest levels they need to be managed sustainably and within their limits of resilience. The legal profession is famed for a culture of stoicism and perfection in the face of the extreme work pressure and long workdays required to meet the high expectations of employers and clients. These practices have led to many lawyers being exposed to illness when their tolerance to stress is exhausted. When people are continually pressed beyond this threshold, without the opportunity to properly recover, lasting health and performance impacts can result. Studies have shown that half of law students, one third of lawyers and one fifth of barristers suffer a level of disability or distress due to depression. The Mental Health First Aid Manual also estimates that that sixty percent of depression is undiagnosed and untreated and that mental ill- health is the third most common source of disease burden after cancers and heart disease and is the major cause of disability in Australia. The 2016 Insights Report over six million working days are lost annually in Australia through untreated depression. Estimates put the cost of lost productivity from absenteeism at about $10,000 per year for each employee with untreated depression. In 2016 Gallup found that the cost of presenteeism through ambivalence or disengagement from work is ten times higher affecting around seventy percent of the Australian workforce. In Australia there are two key organisations supporting lawyers, law students, firms, corporations and Government to better manage the mental health risks that are apparent in legal work environments and practices. Minds Count (previously named the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation) is an independent charitable organisation with an objective to decrease work related psychological ill-health. It promotes psychological health and safety in the legal community through creating awareness and supporting initiatives that aim to decrease the distress, disability and causes of depression and anxiety in the legal profession. The Foundation released the Workplace Wellbeing: Best Practice Guidelines to which more than 220 legal workplaces in Australia and overseas have become signatories. Minds Count hosts an annual lecture with an eminent keynote speaker and other regular briefings and events aimed at supporting the legal community. The initiatives of Minds Count have been effective in increasing awareness and the level of conversations, as well as the development of tools to better understand and manage mental wellbeing issues. Resilience at Law is a collaboration between seven major firms and The College of Law and takes a leadership role in raising awareness and understanding of the nature and impact of stress, depression and anxiety across the legal profession. They provide guidance across four areas; awareness and education, removing stigma, self-care, and support and resources 2018 AusLSA Member Performance During 2018 AusLSA members continued investing in and delivering a range of initiatives to address the causes, symptoms and effects of mental ill-health. This is a sign that management generally accepts the importance of this issue and sees a need to better understand and address it. Ninety percent of AusLSA’s reporting firms have formal policy-based commitments to address psychological wellbeing but only twenty- four percent of these firms made their commitments publicly. Public disclosure of mental health issues and firm policies reinforce management’s values and culture of leadership that help to reduce stigma of caring for mental health. All of these firms did however have a management structure in place for their policy implementation. Sixty-one percent of firms were also signatories to the Tristan Jepson FORMAL POLICY PUBLISHED POLICY 90% 24% 7% 76% 3% Yes Yes No No Not Reported POLICY PUBLISHED