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.
Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, CIPA's Chief Executive, Lee Davies, discusses the support that professional bodies can provide for their members, and reminds us of the LawCare helpline available to CIPA members and other legal professionals.
Lee writes: "The media focus on the footballer Aaron Lennon is a vivid reminder, if we should need one, that providing support for those who face living and working with mental health issues is a challenge for us all. No profession is immune. We all experience increasing demands on our time at work and at home, and it seems that we accept that anxiety, stress and depression are the price we have to pay for leading successful working lives.
All of us, at different points in our lives, will need support. If we are fortunate, we will have around us a network of family and friends who can help us when we need help most. That does not mean that we are confronting a serious mental health issue. This year, however, Mental Health Awareness Week reminds us that the key question is not why so many people are living with mental health problems, but why too few of us are thriving with good mental health?
Why should this matter to a professional body like CIPA? Surely it is up to CIPA’s members to thrive in the fast-moving world of intellectual property law? What could a membership organisation offer that would lend itself to the needs of those who, rather than thrive in this world, are struggling to survive in it? My response to questions such as these is a simple one. A professional body that does not take seriously the challenge of supporting its members as individuals when they need it most will not thrive itself, indeed it may not survive.
I believe that, at CIPA, we do take the mental health and wellbeing of our members seriously. We do have in place a great sense of community and we do encourage our members to network outside of the immediacy of the workplace. Creating an atmosphere of friendship and trust which extends beyond an individual firm or industrial department is one of the ways we can create the conditions for good mental health within a profession. This will not, however, provide the critical safety net we all need when times are really tough.
We are pleased to announce another IP Inclusive event taking place during Mental Health Awareness Week. Kilburn & Strode, supporter of IP Inclusive and signatory of the IP Inclusive Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, is running an event on mental health at their London office on 11th May 2017. The event begins at 17:30, and comprises a panel discussion and Q&A session, followed by networking and refreshments at 19:00.
The event will cover what steps we can each take to thrive, rather than just survive, by looking after our mental health and building resilience to cope with the demands of life. The event is open to everyone working in IP, including fee earners and support staff. Kilburn & Strode encourages as many IP professionals to attend and hopefully take back insights and learning to their places of work. To reserve your place at the event, please sign-up here.
Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from 8th to 14th May 2017 and, as previously mentioned here, IP Inclusive is running events during this week. Wynne-Jones IP and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO), both supporters of IP Inclusive and signatories of the IP Inclusive Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, are jointly running an event on mental health at the UK IPO in Newport (Wales) on 11th May 2017. For more information, see the event poster below, and head here to book your space at the event. We hope many of you will be able to join this event to explore this important topic.
Check this blog regularly to hear about other events in this series. (See here for the event taking place in Leeds). If you are organising your own event for Mental Health Awareness Week, please let us know and we'll add it to this blog.
As previously mentioned on this blog, this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is from 8th to 14th May 2017. HGF Limited, supporter of IP Inclusive and signatory of the IP Inclusive Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, is running an event on mental health at their Leeds office on 10th May 2017. For more information, see the event poster below. We hope many of you will be able to join HGF's event to explore this important topic.
Check this blog regularly to hear about other events in this series. If you are organising your own event for Mental Health Awareness Week, please let us know and we'll add it to our blog.