This year the theme for the day in Mental Health in the Workplace.
Huge topic to tackle I think.
Recently I kept a diary for one week about my own Mental Health and whether I was “Surviving or Thriving”. A lot of that was focused on my job and whether the day had been particularly stressful or not.
Due to the nature of the work that I do it is inevitable that I experience some stress. So the key is, I think, how you deal with it.
As head of two busy departments I am keen to observe those around me. I try to assess if they are coping.
Are they taking on to much?
Are they suffering from external stress from home perhaps?
Are they failing to take breaks, time for lunch?
I also worry that, with the stigma attached to mental health issues, would my team admit to any problems? Would they feel comfortable sharing those with me?
I am a Mental Health Lawyer so I should know the signs right?
It may be right but do I recognise them in others?
A typical day for someone in my team (Clinical Negligence & Mental Health) would start at 8am. Arrival at the office and a quick cup of something caffeinated to start the day. They will sort out their work for the day and probably write an article for the website before the phones start ringing at 9am.
From 9am until lunchtime it is pretty much full on. There is little time for anything other than a quick loo break. Perhaps another cup of caffeine (provided the junior has time to make it!) in between phone calls, client meetings and court work. On top of that there is post and emails. You are, literally, bombarded with information all day from numerous sources – telephone, email, fax, post and sometimes actual people!
Do we take lunch?
Most days, no.
Most days it is a quick sandwich at our desks checking emails and preparing for afternoon appointments. Sometimes lunch is in the car on the way to the next appointment or hearing.
The afternoon is much the same as the morning. And often people are still at work way past 6pm or later.
What about life?
Recently I was having a “discussion” with my husband. Suddenly I heard myself say that life was something that I fit in around my work. I thought about that comment and wondered why I said it.
It is because work is a massive part of my life.
Helping my clients and getting positive outcomes for them really is important to me and my team.
We live and breathe our jobs because we are passionate and dedicated.
We strive to make things better, to right the wrongs of the world – we honestly do.
Is that stressful? It certainly is.
What can I do about it?
That is where World Mental Health Day is important.
I am going to commit to being proactive in promoting :-
- Appreciation of employees and workers
- A supportive environment
- The identification of early signs of burn out
- A culture which reflects value systems and beliefs
- Stress management
- Awareness and reducing stigma
- Mental health wellness and support for employees who need it
The best thing that I can do to ensure that our talented and dedicated lawyers keep pushing forward is keeping them well.
That way they continue doing what they love which is helping others.
Hmmm…..perhaps that is what we do “Helping ourselves to help others”?