30 January 2019

Mental health chief calls on firms to 'stamp out' bullying and harassment

Rise in stress levels sees biggest rise in bullying and harassment at law firms, while women and younger lawyers the majority callers.

Legal mental health charity LawCare has received its highest ever number of helpline calls from lawyers in 2018 with calls about bullying and harassment nearly doubling.

The numbers

The charity runs a helpline for the legal profession offering emotional support, and dealt with 932 calls in 2018 from 624 callers, a five per cent increase on the number of calls in 2017. The most common reasons for calling are stress (26 per cent), depression (19 per cent) and anxiety (11 per cent). Calls about bullying and harassment have risen from 38 calls in 2017 to 68 last year. The majority of callers to the helpline were women (64 per cent) and 48 per cent were trainees/pupils or had been qualified five years or fewer. Other issues included concerns about disciplinary proceedings (eight per cent), career development (nine per cent), chronic illness, alcohol and drugs, and relationship issues.

‘stamp this out’

Elizabeth Rimmer, ceo of LawCare, said ‘2018 was our busiest year to date on the helpline since we started over twenty years ago. Whilst we are pleased more lawyers are reaching out to us for support, we remain increasingly concerned about the long hours and heavy workload culture in the law which significantly affects wellbeing.’ She added, ‘We are particularly concerned about the number of callers citing bullying and harassment in the workplace, it is absolutely essential that legal practice organisations take steps to stamp this out and take the wellbeing and treatment of staff seriously.’