Looking after your mental wellbeing at work

A supplementary guide for paralegals, business support staff in the Intellectual Property profession and those who manage them


By Vicky Maynard, IP Training and Standards Manager, Marks & Clerk and Penelope Aspinall, Mental Health Consultant, Jonathan’s Voice

Jonathan’s Voice and a small group of dedicated Intellectual Property (IP) support staff volunteers, have worked together to produce this online guide.

Its purpose is to act as a supplement to our other guides which were targeted at Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys and senior leaders in the IP professions. Rather than providing generic information on protecting your mental health, we are focussing on areas specifically relevant to both business support staff* in IP and those who manage them. Its purpose is to enable us to protect our mental wellbeing at work. We hope that this will encourage us all to look out for each other and ultimately empower us to continue to speak out about mental health issues.

*NB By ‘business support staff’ we mean paralegals, formalities, administrative staff, those working in finance, IT, HR and all other roles which support the running of an IP firm.

More general information on looking after your mental health and wellbeing when working in IP can be found on the IP Inclusive Website.


We already know that working within IP in whatever capacity, can be challenging, sometimes highly pressured but ultimately rewarding. Since the pandemic, the way that we conduct our working roles has changed, for some, almost beyond recognition. Working within a hybrid, or remote environment has meant changes as to how we handle already complex work. Managing team and professional relationship dynamics have been altered due to adjustments in the way we interact with each other.

Support staff, like many others working in the IP professions, will have periods of being under particular stress which may impact their mental health and wellbeing, as evidenced by the IP Inclusive and Jonathan’s Voice Wellbeing in the Workplace survey, 2022.  The survey was divided into three versions, one for CIPA and CITMA student members, one for paralegals and business support staff and the third for all other CIPA and CITMA members. In the survey completed by support staff,

  • 50% of respondents felt stress had adversely affected their work
  • 50% felt that anxiety had adversely affected their work

In spite of this, however, the vast majority (87.5%) took no time off due to stress or mental health problems.

Main causes of stress and anxiety for business support staff

Using this guide

Guided by the survey results and other feedback from support staff, we felt that the most useful way forward in helping protect mental health at work for support staff was to provide practical tips and strategies covering the following key areas.

You may want to work through all the areas or just visit the ones that are most relevant to you. We are always striving to improve so any comments or feedback would be most welcome.