Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Andrea Brewster, IP Inclusive Leader, and is a report on the joint IP Inclusive, CIPA and LawCare webinar on mental health.
Andrea writes: "We have to take responsibility for our mental health. This possibly isn’t what you want to hear when the existing demands on your resources are already close to overwhelming, but it was a key message from our 15th May webinar on “Why looking after your mental health is so important”.
Ann Charlton, from the charity LawCare, didn’t mince her words. We are all responsible, she said, for recognising and responding to potential mental health problems – in ourselves and in the people around us – and for addressing those problems openly and without judgement. Harsh though this introduction might have seemed, it was followed by sound and above all practical advice that showed our webinar presenter to be exactly the kind of straight-talking, wise and supportive friend that we all need when things are getting on top of us; she was concerned not only with helping us, but also with teaching us to help ourselves.
The webinar was jointly organised by IP Inclusive, CIPA and LawCare. It was open to all IP professionals and attracted over 130 registered attendees, some of whom would undoubtedly have been listening in groups with other colleagues. Intended to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, for which this year’s theme is stress, it explored how stress can affect professionals in the legal sector and what we can do to make ourselves more resilient to its ill-effects.
Ann’s presentation covered several important areas, including:
As mentioned earlier on this blog, IP Inclusive will be running events and seminars during Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 (14th to 20th May 2018). During and around this week, with help from several generous supporters, we're putting on a series of events on topics related to mental well-being in the workplace.
This year's MHAW theme is "stress", something we're all of us familiar with and which affects the health of many IP professionals. By recognising and addressing mental health problems in the workplace, removing the stigma associated with them and giving both ourselves and our colleagues more resilience to cope with the stress we encounter, we can build more inclusive workplaces where everyone can flourish.
Please get involved in at least one of our events if you can, and encourage your colleagues to do the same. The events, listed below, are taking place across the UK. Importantly, the events are free for IP professionals - and by "IP professionals" we mean in any IP-related role (including administrators, secretaries and other support staff) and at any career level. Mental health is an issue for everyone!
In addition to the events on mental health, IP Inclusive and CIPA are currently surveying CIPA members to gather basic data about mental well-being in the patent profession, the extent to which stress affects that and the types of support that would benefit patent attorneys. If you're a CIPA member, please spare us 10 minutes or so to complete the survey, which you can access here.
They are running this session on Tuesday 15th May at 1.30pm – 2.30pm (or as much time as people can manage), during which attendees can have lunch and help stitch a blanket. We ask that attendees bring 3 knitted or crocheted 4 x 4 cm "Granny Squares" in any colour – and one "work in progress" square.
The aim is to create a blanket for Carecent to be delivered during Mental Health Awareness Weeks as a gift from IP Inclusive and the local Clifton Moor Business Association (where BRANDED! are situated). Please get in touch with Carin Burchell for further information or to register for the event.
Several other events are in the pipeline for that week, including in Bristol, Glasgow, London and Manchester. Event details and registration links will be posted on this blog soon.
This year, Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from 14th to 20th May 2018 and, once again, IP Inclusive will be running events and seminars during this week. This year, MHAW is focussing on stress. Research has shown that 16 million people experience a mental health problem each year, and stress is a key factor in this. By tackling stress, we can go a long way to tackle mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and, in some instances, self-harm and suicide. The IP profession can often be stressful - long days, complex legal problems, client-based challenges, and deadline management can often take its toll on the mental health of people working in the sector, which is why IP Inclusive hope many of you will be able to participate in one of our MHAW events this year.
We currently have two events for MHAW 2018:
These events will be open to all IP professionals. That means not only fee earners but also the professionals who work with them, for example secretaries, IP administrators and paralegals, HR professionals, searchers, translators and Patent Office examiners. These are issues which affect the whole team – let’s reach out to everyone and include them in the discussion.
We'll update this blog with information about more MHAW venues and events soon. In the meantime, you can find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week here and if you’re on Twitter, by following the hashtag #MHAW18.
If you are organising your own event for Mental Health Awareness Week, please let us know and we'll add it to this blog.
On 5 December we co-hosted a webinar with CIPA, CITMA and LawCare, on "Mental Health Matters".
Elizabeth Rimmer, Chief Executive of LawCare, talked about why mental health matters in the IP community and highlighted aspects of the culture and practices of the legal professions that can compromise mental wellbeing. She explained her charity's role in promoting and supporting good mental health, and reminded us that the LawCare helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year, for all IP professionals. She also introduced some simple steps that we can take to protect ourselves and our colleagues from mental health problems, in particular those arising from workplace stress.
At the end of her presentation, Elizabeth addressed questions about the difficult line between mental health support and competency criteria; the issues surrounding "presenteeism"; early signs of mental health problems; and particular challenges for more junior professionals and people suffering exam-related pressures.
If you missed this popular webinar, you can access a FREE recording from here, and download a copy of the presentation slides here:
We are grateful to CIPA for hosting this webinar. And we hope that many in the IP professions will use it as a catalyst for more open and constructive conversations about mental health in the workplace. We need to break down the stigma associated with mental ill-health - and the only way to do that is to talk about it more.
IP Inclusive Leader
There are quite a few IP Inclusive events taking place in November:
Wednesday 8th November - unconscious bias workshop/seminar in London. For more details, see this blog post.
Thursday 9th November - an IP Out seminar in London on the options available to LGBT+ people for having children. For more details, see the IP Out page here.
Tuesday 21st November - a Women in IP seminar in London on climbing the career ladder. For more details, see the Women in IP page here.
Wednesday 29th November - workshop/seminar on the business case for diversity and inclusivity in London. The event will be hosted by Gowling WLG at 4 More London Riverside, London SE1 2AU.
This event is aimed at anyone involved in recruitment or HR, or with influence over their organisations’ EDI policies. It will include workshop-style discussions to assemble a compelling case for diversity and inclusivity, that you can take back to your own organisation to persuade colleagues on board.
Under discussion will be the impact of diversity on an organisation's internal efficiency; its talent recruitment and retention; its relationships with clients and other external stakeholders; its risk and compliance management; and its overall financial performance.
To book onto the event, see here.
Tuesday 5th December - joint CIPA, CITMA and IP Inclusive lunchtime webinar on mental health featuring Elizabeth Rimmer, the Chief Executive of LawCare. Elizabeth will talk about why mental health matters in the IP community and highlight aspects of the culture and practices of the legal professions that can compromise mental wellbeing. LawCare's support is available to all CIPA and CITMA members, and this webinar will explain the charity's role in promoting and supporting good mental health. It will also introduce some simple steps that we can all take to protect ourselves and our colleagues from mental health problems, in particular those arising from workplace stress.
This webinar is intended for all IP professionals, and may be particularly useful for new starters to the profession and for those involved in management roles.
To book, please visit the CIPA website.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Wynne-Jones IP and is a write-up of the event held they hosted jointly with the UK IPO during Mental Health Awareness week. The article contains practical tips on what you can to do improve your mental health, and explains what IP practitioners who attended the event have pledged to do to achieve a healthier work-life balance. Wynne-Jones IP is one of our Charter signatories.
"The IP profession can often prove to be stressful. Long days, complex legal issues, client-based challenges, and working to strict deadlines can often take its toll on the mental health of attorneys and support staff in this environment.
As methodical people who aim to find specific solutions to complex issues, it can be hard to accept when you are faced with a problem which simply can’t be fixed with logic. This often results in individuals becoming insular and suffering with issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression privately.
At Wynne-Jones IP, we recognise that it can be hard to open up about the private battles you may be facing and discuss your inner thoughts.
But just remember – you’re not alone.
In the spirit of supporting our peers in the IP profession, we recently held a very successful Mental Health Awareness Week event in conjunction with IP Inclusive and the IPO, which we fittingly titled: Get Off That Hamster Wheel! Perspectives on stress management for a better work/life balance.
The session, held on 11th May 2017 addressed the stigmas and common misconceptions surrounding mental health issues.
We welcomed a host of prestigious speakers on the day, who all spoke out about the importance of supporting those with mental health concerns, and recognising it to help alter attitudes in the workplace.
Tim Moss, Chief Executive Officer and Controller General of the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO), opened the talk with an insightful comment about how far the profession has progressed in openly discussing mental health.
As often recognised, IP professionals can bottle up the stresses associated with the job for fear of seeming ineffective in their roles, weak, or simply a failure.
Thanks to events like this, it encourages people not to suffer in silence, but to open up to their colleagues about their daily struggles, and to accept their mental illness for what it is – an illness, for which IP professionals should receive support to cope with in a stigma-free environment.
Today's blog article has kindly been written by Neelum Dass and is a write-up of an excellent event held as part of Mental Health Awareness week. It is full of practical tips on what you can to do help yourself and others with mental health issues. Neelum is an associate in the Commercial IP/IT team of Bristows, one of our Charter signatories.
Neelum writes: "IP Inclusive and Kilburn & Strode recently hosted the talk “Surviving or Thriving” focussed on mental health in the work place. The speakers were:
The talk was structured as a Q&A session with three key themes.
1. Why talking about mental health is important
Poor mental health can easily lead to loss of balance in life which in turn could result in serious physical and mental problems such as depression or anxiety. Legal professionals are particularly vulnerable to stress and exhaustion given the high-pressure, demanding nature of their jobs. Initiatives like Mental Health Awareness Week are important because they put psychological health on the corporate agenda in an effort to break the stigma. For example, there is a widespread belief that a person with mental health issues is weak. On the contrary, Dr Mitchell considers that those who have struggled with this are actually more self-aware and conscious of what they need to do to achieve and maintain good health.
2. What you can do to help yourself
Dr Mitchell sees more lawyers than other professionals and suggested that perhaps this is because they are paid to identify risks and focus on what happens when things go wrong. The speakers offered practical tips to help manage mental health, for example, they encouraged people to access help at an early stage when feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. Something as simple as a good conversation early on could prevent someone from going down the wrong path.
This is a question I addressed at our Mental Health Awareness Week event in Newport last night.
Unfortunately, there are still people who think that suffering from mental illness – even something relatively common like depression or anxiety – makes you a nutter, or a malingerer, or (perhaps most dangerous of all) simply not up to the job.
And in this high-powered, high-flying profession of ours, it’s tempting to think that IP simply is a stressful environment, so if you can’t take the pressure, perhaps you shouldn’t be here.
Yet by taking that line, we risk rejecting or side-lining many talented people. And those who stay are often miserable or afraid: afraid of weakness; afraid of failure. So they’re less productive than they should be. And we lose valuable time through absenteeism, or indeed “presenteeism”, when people spend inordinately long hours in the workplace merely to show their commitment rather than to achieve anything extra.
That’s an unhealthy, and divisive, way of working.
[Excerpt from the Not-so-Secret Diary of a certain patent attorney]
22nd April 2016, 11pm
You, better than anyone, know how I struggle with the ups and downs. The bright whites and the dark gulleys. The high contrast, super-saturated, amazing technicolour dream world and the flat monochrome wash that sometimes rolls in.
You know there are good days, creative and buzzing, when I set up task forces and draft proposals, times when I genuinely believe I could rule the world if given the opportunity, or at least a small chartered institute. And then the bad days, miserable and anxious and so, so tired, when my brain goes over and over the things I’ve been doing and those I haven’t been doing but should have, and denounces them all as hideous failures. Days when the CIPA stationery cupboard seems an attractive place to spend the rest of my life, with the door locked, hoping nobody finds me ever again. You know that on the bad days, Imposter Syndrome doesn’t even start to describe the self-doubt, the conviction that people see me for the weak, incompetent and generally unpleasant person I am.