In this podcast discussion, between two of the International Bar Association’s Mental Wellbeing Task Force Heads for Africa, Isibor Aigbe and Banke Olagbegi-Oloba and George Artley, Bar Issues Commission project manager at the IBA, Tom Pearson learns about what is being done to address the stigma around mental health in the profession.
A recent global study by the International Bar Association (IBA) into the mental wellbeing of those in the legal profession found that there is a general lack of knowledge about good practice when it comes to addressing the issue in the workplace and on an individual level. There are also no forums for sharing information on good practice, however the IBA intends to raise awareness of this taboo topic through its newly formed global task force of members.
Artley says the information gleaned from the research will assist the task force in starting conversations in their workplaces and with their regulators and legal communities in their different countries.
Aigbe talks about why lawyers in Africa ranked their levels of fatigue second to their North American counterparts. He says some lawyers have to take on two jobs to support their loved ones, due to the low income they receive. Other contributing factors that lead to increased stress levels were the unreasonable deadlines given to junior staff by their bosses as well as sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace. The failure by governments to provide robust mental health policies, that are inclusive and impactful, adds to the challenges.
For Olagbegi-Oloba, the first step to addressing mental wellbeing is acknowledgment.
“The most important way would be to recognise and accept that mental health issues exist within the profession. Unless and except this is done, I am afraid the challenge may continue to linger”.
She recommends that partners, directors, and lawyers at management level come up with policies, programmes and coping strategies to deal with the illness.
The lawyers offer their own coping strategies, which listeners will find useful when feeling overwhelmed.
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