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Recognition and Management: key to protecting mental health

Jonathan Foster, trainee patent attorney, CIPA welfare office and member of Jonathan’s Voice Advisory Board was recently asked to contribute to the December edition of Leeds and Yorkshire Lawyer, front page pictured above (https://leedslawsociety.org.uk/news/). The title of his article brings together two important aspects of mental health and wellbeing.

The first is recognition. It is so important to recognize how someone else might be feeling and how we ourselves are feeling. Jonathan writes that people seem more willing to answer the question, ”How are you feeling?” more honestly than in the past. One of the aims of Jonathan’s Voice is to reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace and we believe that this is happening but know there is still a long way to go.

Having spoken openly about feeling of anxiety, depression or another concern, what next? Jonathan identifies a number of resources, some specific to patent attorneys in training, including the excellent welfare and wellbeing section on the Yellow Sheet https://yellowsheet.wordpress.com/ . All of us can be a resource; taking time to talk with others, to listen without judgement and if appropriate signpost to other sources of help.

The second aspect of the title is management. This in part relates to finding ways, perhaps with support, about those things that help us to manage our own mental health and wellbeing. Some of these are discussed in our Guide to Mental Health and Wellbeing that Jonathan cited in his article. https://jonathansvoice.org.uk/guide-for-patent-and-trade-mark-professionals

However, a key aspect is the management of the workplace in such a way that it is mentally safe in the same way that we expect it to be physically safe. It is about a culture where it’s ok to say you’re not ok, to be able to own up to a mistake and where there are initiatives in place to prevent mental health difficulties and mechanisms to support those who might be struggling. Jonathan’s Voice, in collaboration with the Charlie Waller Trust, will shortly be publishing a guide about creating a mentally healthy workplace.

Look out for it!

Val McCartney

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