McMillan boosts mental health support for lawyers

Nisha Rider, HR director, discusses new wellbeing assessment for associates

McMillan boosts mental health support for lawyers

Canadian law firm McMillan has boosted its mental health supports for associates in introducing a new initiative.

The process is voluntary and begins with a confidential mental health questionnaire, covering areas such as stress, relationships, sleep, and personal growth opportunities. Following this, a virtual meeting with a TELUS Health mental health clinician is scheduled to review the questionnaire's results and formulate a personalized action plan, said Nisha Rider, McMillan’s HR director.

The introduction of the TELUS Health Wellbeing Assessment stemmed from a desire to create a supportive environment for its members.

"We pride ourselves as an organization in creating an environment where team members can bring their full selves to work and thrive,” Rider said.

Legal professionals have significantly higher levels of psychological distress, depression, anxiety, burnout and suicidal ideation compared to the Canadian working population, according to The National Study on the Health and Wellness Determinants of Legal Professionals in Canada. Overall, even greater proportions are reported by younger professionals and members of equity-seeking groups.

Due to the prevalence of mental health challenges in the legal profession, mental health and wellness have been top priorities for McMillan, especially during and post-pandemic, Rider said. The statistics regarding mental health issues, especially among young lawyers, underscores the need for proactive support in the workplace, she said.

“We saw this as such an important tool to provide to our associates to support them in the workplace and help them optimize their health and achieve their full potential as practicing lawyers.”

Mental health support for legal professionals

Last year, the company also enhanced its mental health coverage, offering increased annual maximums and requiring mental health training to equip leaders to support employees effectively.

McMillan also offers meditation classes and pet therapy days.

“I think prioritizing employee wellbeing contributes to employee engagement, productivity and of course mental health, and we know it’s something our people want and appreciate,” Rider said.

Since offering the TELUS Health assessment, McMillan has seen positive feedback and witnessed high engagement levels in their wellness and mental health programs, indicating a strong desire for such support among their associates, she said.

“Because mental health challenges are so prevalent in the legal profession, I think it's important that all law firms place this as a priority,” Rider said. “I hope that we're setting the standard, but regardless of that, we're doing this because we think it's important; we're very passionate about mental health, and we want to maintain a healthy work culture for our people.”

 

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