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We’ve now been living and working in a completely different way for nearly 14 weeks. Many legal professionals will have enjoyed working at home – the opportunity to work flexibly, no commute, a bit of distance from difficult colleagues or boss. Others have found it isolating, struggling to carve out a quiet space or a time to work, with little communication or support from their line manager.
Whilst the restrictions of lockdown are gradually easing, we are still a long way from life as it was pre-lockdown and at LawCare we feel the true emotional and financial impact of the pandemic has yet to hit in earnest. This is a marathon not a sprint – and perhaps in some ways we’ve been insulated from the practical impact of the pandemic during lockdown and on furlough; we may not have experienced the realities of following social distancing rules whilst commuting or in the workplace. We expect the coming weeks and months will continue to be challenging and that many more legal professionals will be in need of emotional support.
Over the past three months we’ve had over 70 legal professionals contact us with their worries and fears related to COVID-19. We are listening to and reassuring everyone who contacts us, and many have said that just acknowledging their feelings and opening up to someone has helped them to process what has been going on.
Here are the top three reasons people have reached out to us for support:
21% of legal professionals have contacted us because they have an existing mental health issue such as stress, anxiety and depression exacerbated by COVID-19. Many people have lost some of the routines and support structures that kept them on an even keel, and lack of social interaction, or conversely a lack of time alone combined with the daily news headlines and pressures of work and caring responsibilities are weighing heavy on their shoulders.
Despite government guidelines to work from home if at all possible, around 18% of the legal professionals who have contacted us for support are being asked to return to the office. This understandably is causing some great anxiety – some are shielding and concerned about the potential impact to their health, others aren’t sure how they can physically get to work, some still have children at home. We expect to see more concerns about this as more legal professionals inevitably get called back in.
Around 11% of all our contacts have been around financial concerns. People are fearful of what happens when furlough ends and whether redundancies will be made. Others are struggling with commitments on reduced pay, some are not able to get work.
If you are finding things difficult and need to talk, LawCare can help. We provide emotional support to all legal professionals, support staff and their families. You can call our confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or access webchat and our COVD-19 hub full of resources at www.lawcare.org.uk.
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Elizabeth has been managing and developing charities in the mental health sector for over 20 years. She joined LawCare in 2014 from the Institute of Group Analysis, a membership and training organisation for group psychotherapists. Before that she headed up Alzheimer’s Disease International, a worldwide federation of Alzheimer Associations. Elizabeth started her working life as a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence, practicing at Leigh Day.
LawCare is an independent charity offering emotional support, information and training to the legal community in the UK and Ireland. We work to promote good mental health and wellbeing in legal workplaces and drive change in education, training and practice. If you need to talk call us on 0800 279 6888 or visit www.lawcare.org.uk
0330 161 1234