Employees and employers must have a voice in the new psychosocial code of practice, says Queensland Law Society Legal Workplace and Culture Consultant Denise Marshall.
Held during the Queensland Mental Health Week, the QLS Mental Health Forum on October 10 is an interactive event focusing on mental health and wellbeing in the legal profession.
Discussions will centre around psychosocial safety in the workplace and the WorkSafe Code of Practice 2022.
“The Mental Health Forum is an opportunity for practitioners, whether employers or employees, to get together and to explore psychosocial hazards in the legal sector,” Denise said.
“The afternoon will focus on good discussions and developing solutions together. We can identify the risks and the mitigation strategies around them.
“We know the statistics around mental illness in the legal profession. We know anxiety is high, depression is high, and substance use for managing stress is high when compared with the general population.
“This is a great first step to help kickstart your own organisation in complying with the code of practice.”
Denise said burnout was a hot topic and at the top of the list as something we needed to address.
“Where there is mental ill health, it can be accompanied by physical ill health symptoms. It can be more than one thing. Physical symptoms could cause mental health issues.
“Solicitors often, due to personality types, like to have control. And younger professionals want more autonomy and less micromanagement so that can impact stress levels.
“At the forum we will help identify several aspects that have an impact on people such as environmental factors, personalities and the actual work undertaken. All of those together can potentially lead to a mentally unhealthy work environment.”
She said mental health remained a significant concern for QLS, the profession and the community.
“At QLS we support people working in the legal sector to achieve and maintain good mental health by providing a range of workshops, information and practical help.”
The forum is registered as a Queensland Mental Health Week event and organised by the QLS Wellbeing Working Group members.
It starts at 1pm with lunch and networking, Noela L’Estrange, QLS Wellbeing Working Group Chair, will make the opening remarks.
Risks and Psychological Hazards will be the first session and set the scene for creating a safe workplace.
Founder and Principal Advisor of The Risk Collective Amy Towers and Belinda Winter, Partner at Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers and Deputy Chair, Queensland Law Society Wellbeing Working Group, will present.
Belinda said there has been an increased focus on psychosocial hazards recently.
“We know there is a higher risk of mental health issues from various studies. The legal profession has higher rates of common mental illnesses than the general population,” she said.
“Firms need to take a risk management approach to managing psychosocial hazards like any other industry does when it comes to managing physical hazards.
“I hope participants take away an understanding of the particular psychosocial hazards in their workplace and some practical suggestions to minimise those psychosocial hazards.”