Our equality and diversity manager, Elaine MacGlone, blogs about Lawscot Wellbeing, #LawscotPoP, and why it's important that we know and understand our members - help us get to know you and take part in the Profile of the Profession survey.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week, and also marks the launch of an exciting new project for the Law Society, Lawscot Wellbeing.
It was fantastic to see so many members and others support the Lawscot Wellbeing launch in person on Monday, as well as the extensive activity on social media which has seen an enthusiastic response from people giving their backing to the initiative. It offers practical information on the steps we can take to maintain our mental health as well as guidance on what to do when we, our colleagues or our clients, need support.
It’s important that we, as the Scottish solicitors’ professional body, do the right thing for our members and others within the wider legal profession. That’s why understanding the views of our members is so vital. However as I am reminded daily by the notice next to my desk that, however interesting and useful, “anecdotes are not data!” That’s one of the primary reasons we at the Law Society are encouraging every solicitor, trainee and accredited paralegal to complete our Profile of the Profession survey which is running throughout May. The findings from the survey will provide us with an insight into the attitudes of individuals in the profession on a range of equality issues and will help to identify any issues in relation to employment policies and career development within the legal sector. After all, we cannot represent and support our members effectively unless we really understand who they are, how they feel, and what they need from us.
This is our fourth profession-wide census and each time we run the survey we put an extra focus on specific areas. This time we are focusing particularly on experiences of discrimination, bullying and harassment, all obvious areas which can drastically affect someone’s mental health and wellbeing. In our 2010 study, one fifth of the respondents told us they had experienced bullying and harassment and as a result we introduced our Guide to Preventing Bullying and Harassment, to tackle this which we updated in 2017. Further, given the strength of the #metoo campaign, we feel it’s time to seek views on sexual harassment in the profession.
We are also diving down into the detail of mental health, asking our members to report their experiences of stress and anxiety. In order that people can be as open as possible about their experiences the survey is entirely anonymous.
Why is it important to look at mental health and stress? Currently the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that one-in-four people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. The HSE also reported that in 2016, 11 million days at work were lost every year as a result of work related stress. Stress can lead to common mental health conditions such as depression, and can aggravate existing mental health conditions. Talking and being open is the first step to resolving these issues, and open communication from our members is an important part of this survey.
We’ve already had a fantastic response, with more than 1,000 people taking part. We are setting our targets high as over 3,400 members responded in 2013 and this year we hope to better that, so please do take the chance to give us your views.
The survey is open to solicitors, including non-practising and retained on the roll members, trainees, and accredited paralegals and will run until 30 May 2018. It will take around 15-25 minutes to complete and you verifiable CPD for doing so.
If you are on social media please share using #LawscotPoP.