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Hunters Law
8th March 2024

Putting mental health first: discussion on stress and burnout

Putting mental health first: discussion on stress and burnout

As legal experts, we pride ourselves on being focused, resilient and committed to pursuing our clients' interests. 

Yet, in a recent workshop on stress and burnout I led with two of my colleagues, something remarkable happened: as a group, we peeled back the layers of our professional personas, revealing that we, too, are susceptible to the effects of stress and burnout. 

Through our candid and open conversation, we explored the various ways stress manifests in our lives. Some shared symptoms such as anxiety, tiredness, lack of motivation, and insomnia as indicators of stress. Despite the unique nature of our stressors, what struck me most was the common thread woven through our experiences; the toll it takes on our mental and physical wellbeing. 

We also delved into strategies for effectively managing stress. Whether it's through exercise, indulging in guilty pleasure TV shows, or other personal coping mechanisms, each of us offered valuable insights from first-hand experience. The most notable consensus was the importance of communication and attentive listening – we need to tell the people around us what’s going on for us and what support we find helpful, and we need to look out for and listen to colleagues who might be under a lot of strain.

One colleague bravely shared their experience of burnout, helping us to understand the consequences of not recognising when we’re under too much pressure and of not taking action to mitigate stress. Our discussion was a helpful reminder that we can make small changes to prioritise wellbeing. Whether it's getting more sleep, going for a walk, or listening to calming music, we recognised that effectively managing our stress is good for us and for our clients. 

As a family lawyer, I’m also conscious that a lot of my clients are under huge amounts of stress, as they seek to deal with the emotional, practical and legal consequences of the breakdown of their relationship, on top of all their regular responsibilities. 

The session was a reminder that as family practitioners we need to think in every case about how stress might be manifesting for our clients and discuss how we can best work with them to support them in managing their stress. 

We’ll be carrying on the discussion about mental health and wellbeing in the coming weeks, including hosting a conversation with Jodie Hill, a lawyer who advocates for improved mental health awareness within the legal profession.  

I am so pleased that by acknowledging our shared experiences, and by offering techniques to effectively manage stress, we are helping to cultivate a more compassionate and resilient legal community.