Most in-house Irish lawyers have experienced ‘burn-out’

Most in-house Irish lawyers have experienced 'burn-out'

Richard Breen

Most in-house lawyers in Ireland have experienced symptoms of burn-out, a new survey suggests.

Over 170 in-house counsel were invited to reflect on their mental wellbeing at a recent William Fry CounselConnect virtual conference.

The conference heard psychotherapist and organisation consultant Antoinette Moriarty in conversation with lawyers Richard Breen and Claire Waterson, co-heads of William Fry’s CounselConnect initiative.

The theme of the event was how Covid-19 was impacting on the individual and work-related wellbeing and mental health of in-house counsel.

In a survey of delegates, 31 per cent reported feeling “very well”, four per cent felt “excellent” and 51 per cent felt simply “okay”.

When asked about symptoms of burn-out as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), 78 per cent confirmed feeling “exhaustion/energy depletion”, 75 per cent felt “mentally distanced from/negative about work” and 58 per cent reported “reduced professional efficacy”.

When polled which of Mental Health Ireland’s five ways to wellbeing they currently include in their week, 70 per cent replied they looked for ways to be active every day, 29 per cent make time to connect with the people around them while 21 per cent are trying something new or had taken up an old interest.

Ms Moriarty told delegates: “Change is only possible when we become fully aware of and accept ourselves and our circumstances, exactly as we are. When we stop looking ahead or behind, when we stop judging and criticising ourselves, others or our circumstances and simply notice and pay attention to what it’s like to be in the here and now. Once we become fully aware of ourselves and our circumstances not only will change become possible, it will become unavoidable.”

Mr Breen said: “I am delighted that CounselConnect was able to proceed this year in a virtual setting. This year brought unforeseen challenges for employers, staff and businesses who had to adapt to Covid-19 in various ways and continue to face challenges.

“Mental health is so important and we were delighted to be able to bring this session to lawyers working in-house in Ireland. Most strikingly, employers need to be aware that the WHO defines ‘burn-out’ as an organisational issue rather something that arises from personal weakness or vulnerability so employers should ensure to have appropriate measures in place.”

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