Monthly Archives

March 2016

Stress in the Legal Profession

Changes to workplace technology have negative effects on our wellbeing. The legal profession is one where technology has transformed lawyers’ work habits and, with it, has brought a range of workplace stresses causing negative effects on their mental health. Speaking at the Queensland Law Society Symposium in March, Chief Justice Catherine Holmes said that this “more pressured age” impacts on mental health in the legal professions.

According to Holmes, the mental health of lawyers is worse than other professionals, beginning with the highly competitive nature of obtaining a place in a law school and continuing into professional life where it is constantly pressured.

Her comments reflect new research from University of Queensland showing that private practice lawyers experience the lowest levels of mental health among all professionals and the highest levels of alcohol and nicotine use and abuse. The report recommends HR professionals to monitor employee attitudes, wellbeing and job performance components rather than focusing on task performance. With long working hours and the additional pressure of performance reviews and an expectation of being available to clients on a 24-hour basis, Holmes also recommended colleagues look for signs of work pressure on the mental health of younger members of the industry and not dismiss their workplace unhappiness.

Others in the legal profession say that although attitudes towards mental health have changed significantly, stigma is still a problem when talking about depression and other mental health issues. Because of this people in the legal professions are reluctant to seek help for fear it will be viewed as a sign of weakness.

At Retreat South we understand the pressures faced in the legal and other professions and have stress program tailored to help professionals minimise the impact of stress in their workplace. Working with you to develop a healthy approach to career satisfaction is our aim.

Burnout or Depression?

‘Burnout’ is a term used a lot these days. It is certainly a psychological condition that can can cause exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm and motivation. The word was originally described in the 1970s as the “extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”

Burnout is usually separated from depression, but new research finds they can be similar. The research focussed on teachers in the USA and every person reporting burnout also reported depressive symptoms as 10 per cent of the women and 7 per cent of the men in the study suffered from from burnout. Also, 10 per cent of each of those groups probably suffered from depression as every person reporting burnout also reported depressive symptoms.

Recognising and treating burnout

Burnout is on the increase. The World Health Organisation estimates approximately 450 million people have a mental health a problem. One of the most common mental health problems is Depression. Depression affects people of every age, background and ethnicity. Depression is not a single, ‘one-size-fits-all’ condition either. It has many different causes, the symptoms are sometimes difficult to understand but they sometimes be severe. Because depression can affect us without being aware of it, feelings of burnout could even be a symptom of depression.

We can take action over burnout and depression and find treatment. You might think a vacation is all you need and are less likely to seek professional help than someone with depression. Because the people in the study were not assessed about having depression, talking with your doctor is a good idea if you feel any of those symptoms. Talking it over with your doctor is a positive way to fully understand what is happening to you.

At Retreat South we recognise work related stress is an all too real part of our daily lives now. We have special programs to help you deal with work stress as well as specialists and programs to treat depression and anxiety.

It’s OK to be in treatment for mental health problems

Depression and anxiety can affect as many as a fifth of the Australian population and mental health issues are greatest among younger people aged 16-24. But so few people seek help for mental health problems. This is because of stigma and negative attitudes about seeking help, not believing treatment helps, concerns about cost, inconvenience, confidentiality, and feeling that problem can be fixed on your own or with the help of family and friends.

Attitudes towards having mental health problems are changing however, and, admitting you experience depression, anxiety or any condition that used to be ignored is finally a sign of strength rather than weakness. A recent article in The Daily Telegraph points this out but adds that, despite the greater honesty and about accepting that mental health problems can happen to us all, there is still a lot of stigma around seeing a therapist.

“It’s great that we’re removing the stigma around mental health issues but the next step is to make it OK to do something about it,” it says in the article.  One of the major concerns about confidentiality and trust also relates to stigma. Young people especially worry that a breach in confidentiality and fear the stigma and embarrassment should peers and family find out they are seeking help.

At Retreat South we understand that entering into treatment can feel overwhelming. We strive to create a safe and secure environment for you to begin your recovery.  You can even use an assumed name at Retreat South. Because you have taken the step to come to us for treatment our staff are committed to your confidentiality, privacy and helping you make the most of the treatment program.