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“Beyond lunchtime yoga and free fruit….”

How encouraging that a recent article in Managing IP reporting on the CITMA spring conference had the title, “CITMA 2022 puts the spotlight on mental health”. CITMA 2022 puts spotlight on mental health | Managing Intellectual Property (managingip.com) It noted that the final session before the lunch break delved into how lawyers and law firms could promote equality, diversity, and inclusion in a post-pandemic world, and focused on the impact of these issues on legal professionals’ mental wellbeing.

Jonathan’s Voice and LawCare were both represented at the conference; mental health charities that are specifically focussed on the legal sector, including Intellectual Property. Elizabeth Rimmer CEO of LawCare made reference to the findings of LawCare’s report published last September that found that more than one in five legal professionals surveyed had experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination. More generally, it found a high risk of burnout in the profession, as well as frequent instances of anxiety, depression and low mood.

Undoubtedly there is a greater focus on mental health but as Penelope Aspinall, mental health consultant at Jonathan’s Voice, pointed out the big challenge for organisations is translating what we know about mental health and wellbeing and the greater attention it receives into concrete action; “We need to go beyond add-ons, like lunchtime yoga and free fruit. We should be looking at policies and thinking about how they will impact people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

There is a better understanding of the factors contributing to poor mental health and some lessening of the perceived stigma that comes with talking about one’s mental health but it is cultural change, driven by senior leaders in organizations, that will effectively bring about change.

Jonathan’s Voice has produced a guide specifically for senior leaders in the intellectual property profession about ways to advance the mental health agenda in the workplace. https://jonathansvoice.org.uk/resources . The charity also offers bespoke consultation and training for organizations which is delivered by experienced mental health professionals. This is free of charge. For more information email val@jonathansvoice.co.uk 

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