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Workplace mental health at King & Wood Mallesons

Rationale and development

Together with four major Australian law firms (Allens, Ashurst, Clayton Utz & Herbert Smith Freehills) and The College of Law in Australia, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) developed resilience@law. The initiative aimed to raise awareness around mental health and stress, address stigma, and provide education, self-care strategies, support and resources. Resilience@law was the catalyst for developing the Firm's approach to mental health. With one in three lawyers expected to experience some form of mental illness during their career, KWM recognises mental health is a key issue within the legal profession globally.

Programme

Psychological wellbeing is integrated into the firm's broader strategy for implementing their workplace Health & Wellbeing Programme ensuring a holistic and integrated approach to health.

  • Resilience@law: Screening of resilience@law DVD and national launch of The College of Law training programme
  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training & Recognising and Managing Mental Health in the Workplace workshops: Builds skills of HR staff to recognise and manage mental health issues
  • Partner workshops and discussions on mental health: Sessions help to raise awareness and reduce stigma
  • Building resilience workshops: Sessions help people take responsibility for their own wellbeing and help identify personal stressors and build resilience
  • Psychological Rehabilitation Programme: Support, to remain at work while dealing with mental health issues
  • Wellbeing Officer Programme: Programme to help with prevention and early identification of mental illness; and to create an environment that encourages people to speak up and seek help
  • Psychological Wellbeing Toolkit: Resources to assist HR and managers to manage mental health issues. For example: case studies, draft emails, links to resources, processes/flow charts, and more
  • TJMF Psychological Wellbeing: Best Practice Guidelines for the Legal Profession
  • R U OK? at Law ‘look deeper’ campaign: 12-month awareness campaign tailored to the legal profession
  • Broader Health and Wellbeing Programme: Comprehensive range of services e.g. gym memberships; health checks; onsite massage, yoga, reflexology, Pilates; Employee Assistance Programme (EAP); and flexible working

Stakeholders

  • Resilience@law was spearheaded by the managing partners and HR directors of the firms, with HR teams at each organisation undertaking MHFA training before launching the initiative internally
  • KWM aims to engage partners and staff at all levels across the firm to raise awareness and educate people about psychological wellbeing. The Firm has partnered with external training and psychological rehabilitation providers to provide training to their HR teams and ensure best practice care is provided

Monitoring and effectiveness

  • 66 per cent increase in calls to the Firm's EAP provider within the first six-weeks of showing the Resilience@law DVD
  • 68 per cent of Wellbeing Officers surveyed had approached someone they were concerned about and 30 per cent were approached by someone with a concern
  • A significant decrease in days taken off work

Key takeaways, lessons learnt and points of interest

  • The resilience@law initiative won the AHRI 2011 Martin Seligman Health and Wellbeing Award. The Beyondblue Annual Report (2011) noted lawyers are more aware of mental health issues than they were as a group in 2009
  • The College of Law now provides a mental health module in its practical legal training
  • Training should be considered an investment. Training HR staff is key, as they are best placed to help others
  • Providing initiatives on-site is a great way for time pressured lawyers to be tested for health issues
  • Specialist providers of mental health training and psychological rehabilitation should be carefully selected as the cheapest may not be the most effective. Shop around for the most appropriate EAP for the legal profession
  • Tailor messages to the particularities of the industry and the nature of the work as well as to the audience. E.g. lunch-time training for time-pressured lawyers; clearly address the question of ‘what’s in it for me?’ in all communications; emails are a simple and cost-effective way to communicate

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© MQ: Transforming mental health 2016 | Registered charity in England / Wales: 1139916 & Scotland: SC046075 | Company number: 7406055