Trainee Blog: Mental Health Awareness Week at Michelmores

A recent survey found that 63% of lawyers are stressed daily, making them the second most stressed professionals in the UK. This, combined with the events of 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic, has highlighted the importance of our mental health and wellbeing even more than usual this year. Indeed, life as a trainee solicitor can often be particularly demanding as you are constantly learning and adapting to new teams during seat rotations.

Trainees at Michelmores are always encouraged to maintain a healthy work-life balance; in recognition of Mental Health Awareness week last week (10-16 May), I wanted to highlight some of the virtual events which took place at Michelmores to support our mental wellbeing.

If everything has changed, why does every day feel the same?

This session was hosted by Abigail Hirshman from our nominated charity of the year, Charlie Waller Trust. Drawing upon research from behavioural science, self-determination theory and positive psychology this workshop looked at two different aspects of change:

  1. How change and uncertainty affect our mental health and wellbeing, how changing the way we think can affect how we feel and behave; and
  2. Understanding what motivates us to change and how we can overcome some of the barriers we face, to making changes in our lives.

Sleep Workshop

The World Sleep Society describe sleep as a ‘human privilege’, one that we are often neglecting by our modern day habits. With sleep being one of the three pillars of wellbeing, this session highlighted how incredibly important it is to make changes where we can. With new working from home practices, it can be difficult to 'switch off' after a day's work; this workshop explored sleep and gave ideas to help improve our chance of getting a better night's sleep.

The Art of Being Brilliant

During this workshop, Dr Andy Cope shared some of the ‘secrets’ of Positive Psychology, focusing on learning new habits of thinking and behaviour that will sustain personal ‘brilliance’. Having studied the happiest people in the UK for the past decade as part of his doctorate, Andy gave practical steps we can take every day to impact positively on our own lives, that of our friends and family, and of our work colleagues. This session was a refreshing hour-long break from day-to-day tasks, which covered how to stay positive during our shift to the 'new normal' based on science of positive psychology.

The Emotionally Intelligent Lawyer

This session aimed to empower attendees to advance their personal and professional development by increasing their capacity to manage emotions, handle conflict and remain focused under pressure. Before attending this session, I hadn't appreciated how intrinsically linked emotional intelligence and stress are; low levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) are linked to reduced capacity to manage stress. Additionally, researchers have shown that our success at work or in life depends 80% on our EQ and only 20% on intellect.

Since joining Michelmores in September 2019, I have been able to witness first-hand how the firm supports mental wellbeing both when we are in the office and when we are working from home, as we have been for over a year now. For trainees, making our wellbeing a priority helps ensure we have the physical and mental energy to cope with any changes that are coming our way.