If you feel you are struggling, the Bar Council’s wellbeing team suggests that you consider the following:
- Talk to your Chambers’ Equality and Diversity Officer, your head of Chambers or your clerk. It is unlikely you will be the first person to experience difficulties and most Chambers will do everything they can to support you.
- Go and see your GP or a recommended counsellor.
- Look at MIND’s resources. There is a lot of information available at http://www.mind.org.uk/. Other mental health charities who provide support and resources include Rethink, the Samaritans, Sane and the Mental Health Foundation.
- Visit www.wellbeingatthebar.org.uk/barristers-support/ for further information and resources.
- Contact LawCare http://www.lawcare.org.uk/about-us/. LawCare operates a helpline and can signpost you to appropriate support.
Fiona Jackson of 33 Chancery Lane comments:
- It is vital to the future of our profession that we can be confident that we are doing all we can to ensure that the best and brightest barristers of all backgrounds, and whether male or female, can commence and maintain a practice. We must ensure that our practice policies enable barristers to work in an environment free from harassment and discrimination, and support them appropriately when they return to work after a period of parental or other long-term leave.
- If you are experiencing problems, don’t suffer in silence but have the courage of your convictions and speak up: by doing so you may not only solve your own problems but improve your Chambers’ approach to others with similar issues. Most, if not all, Chambers will be anxious to nip problems in the bud sympathetically before they become more difficult to resolve.
- If you are struggling to get help within Chambers, then contact one of the bar organisations listed here, and remember that the Bar Council runs an Equality and Diversity Helpline to resolve queries and put you in touch someone who may be able to help.
- The Bar Council also offers mentoring and runs courses designed to advise you on how best to manage a career break associated with parental and other leave, but still return efficiently to practice. See the Bar Council website for details.