The number of legal professionals contacting LawCare for emotional support continues to rise year on year, with 677 people seeking help in 2019.
The charity, which offers emotional support, information and training promoting good mental health and wellbeing in legal workplaces, said that the most common problems cited by lawyers seeking help were stress (26%) and depression (12%).
A significant increase in lawyers contacting the charity about bullying was also highlighted in the survey with 80 callers seeking help after experiencing bullying compared to 47 the previous year. This now accounts for 12% of all contacts. Of those callers, 66% said they were being bullied by a manager or superior.
The majority of callers to the helpline were women (67%) and just over half (53%) were 'trainees/pupils' or had been qualified for less than five years. A further 5% were law students.
LawCare recently launched an online resource promoting mental wellbeing practices for legal professionals.
In a 2019 Resilience and Wellbeing survey, the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division reported that half (48%) of respondents stated that they had experienced mental ill-health (whether formally diagnosed or not) in the last month.
The same 2019 study found that 1 in 15 junior lawyers surveyed (6.4%) had experienced suicidal thoughts in the month leading up to taking the survey and 38% of respondents did not know of any organisations that were there to help if they wanted to discuss stress or mental ill-health at work.
Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of LawCare, said: “We spent 304 hours providing support on the phone last year, answering a call every 2 ½ hours. Last year also saw the launch of our new webchat service enabling us to provide support to more people.
“The biggest trend we’ve noticed is the number of people contacting us about bullying and harassment which is now one of the top three issues people contact us about, possibly because of a lot more attention on this issue in the media over the past couple of years.
“We will be undertaking more detailed research later this year to discover exactly how the culture of law is impacting on wellbeing and mental health, and we hope to use this to drive change in legal workplaces.”