World Mental Health Day; important resources

On Tuesday 10th October, World Mental Health Day 2023 takes place and this year’s theme is that ‘Mental health is a universal human right’.

I can think of few people who wouldn’t agree with that and, in my view, any opportunity to raise awareness of mental health can only be a good thing, particularly in a sector such as conveyancing where we know there can be severe stresses, strains, pressures, and where many people might be struggling with any number of mental health-related issues.

Of course, you might rightly say that all firms should be focused on the mental health needs of every single employee, every single day, however what day’s like this do provide is a focal point, and perhaps an opportunity to explore some of the key issues that may be impacting on conveyancing firm staff, and to sign-post some of the help that is available.

On a general note, I would first point you in the direction of the World Mental Health Day 2023 website here which does provide a raft of information, support, resources, and tips and guides for firms to make a significant contribution to mental health awareness but to also conduct some tangible exercises throughout the day.

For instance, firms can register to hold a ‘Tea & Talk’ session bringing together staff members and perhaps other stakeholders to talk about mental health, to raise awareness and potentially raise some funds for the Mental Health Foundation.

At its heart, that focus on talking or communicating via other means, is absolutely crucial and of course if employees are willing to open up and talk to others within the firm about issues they might have, feelings which are weighing them down, whether they are overburdened, feeling under pressure, struggling at home or in the workplace, that is clearly a good thing.

A problem shared can be a problem halved, but we should also recognise that – for many reasons – many people are not comfortable chatting this through, particularly with someone who might be an authority figure within the firm. Providing an option to write this down, or indeed taking them out of the workplace environment, or offering up counsellors who are not part of the organisation, can also be beneficial to those who might otherwise feel like they’d prefer to keep everything to themselves.

We’ve talked a great deal in the CA about the specific pressures that conveyancing firm employees will often find themselves dealing with. I remember an excellent session at one of our meeting days, post-lockdown, when many attendees shared some of their own mental health details, and indeed, some of the ways and means by which they were seeking to help their staff through what was obviously a very difficult time for many people.

In a real sense, that period did change all our lives, not just personally but for many within a workplace environment, and certainly there may be a feeling among many conveyancers that the stresses, pressures, the sheer amount of work, that was generated post-lockdown has never really trailed off, and that this clearly adds to a potential negative impact on people’s mental health.

Again, many firms I know have a structured approach to this in terms of regular staff engagement, with team leaders/managers flagging up any potential change in employees’ disposition, team leaders/mentors stepping in to ascertain whether the individual is in a difficult place and why, and of course also putting in place a strategy and solution in order to try and help those concerned.

Within the law profession, we have a specific mental wellbeing charity, Law Care, and again I would urge all firms to visit its website here, and as a start, outline the free helpline that is available to all staff.

That helpline – 0800 279 6888 – provides confidential and emotional support for anyone working in law, and just recently it announced a 24% increase in the number of people using the helpline over the first eight months of the year, compared to the same period in 2022.

I think we might all recognise that today’s economy, today’s working environment, today’s society, can all contribute to people feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and even while there has been great strides made in terms of getting over the perceived stigma about sharing mental health issues, there will still be large numbers of people who not just struggle with the issue itself, but also in talking/communicating about it.

Conveyancing firms can clearly help in that regard but I’m also aware that this is often seen as a tricky route to navigate. Firms don’t want to do wrong for trying to do right, and therefore I’ve very pleased that on World Mental Health Day 2023, Law Care is launching new guidance for employers ‘to help them take steps to protect mental health at work, also known as psychosocial risks, rather than waiting until mental health issues have arisen’.

Getting ahead of the curve here is clearly beneficial, and World Mental Health Day should provide everyone in the sector with an opportunity to do something significant in this area, and as Law Care says ‘create mentally healthy workplaces and protect mental health’.


Beth Rudolf is Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association 

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