The Inns of Court have teamed up with The Bar Council and Institute of Barristers' Clerks (IBC) to launch the Wellbeing at the Bar Portal.
This new website has been created to specifically provide support and best practice to barristers, clerks and chambers on wellbeing and mental health issues.
The launch of the portal comes after a Bar Council survey in 2014 saw more than 2500 barristers respond. The survey results and subsequent report highlighted the challenges some members of the Bar were facing in their work in relation to mental health.
Information on wellbeing events, real-life stories from professionals who share their experiences, sample chambers' wellbeing policies and activities and useful contact numbers for those needing advice or help on a wellbeing or mental health matter are just some of the resources on the portal.
The website is the product of a working group specifically compiled to reflect the entire profession, Inns of Court and IBC. Working together they have sought to reflect and respond to the survey results on behalf of their members.
Rachel Spearing, barrister and Co-Founder of the Wellbeing at the Bar initiative, said: "Until a couple of years ago, wellbeing and mental health were not talked about by the profession. It was seen as a sign of weakness, though we all knew it was an issue. Thanks to the survey in 2014, the subsequent report and efforts right across the Bar to raise this as an issue of high importance which can impact on our performance as barristers, wellbeing and mental health now loom large on the Bar's and the wider legal sector's agenda."
In addition to the Portal, the Inns of Court, Circuit and SBAs as well as individual chambers have been proactive on wellbeing. Initiatives include:
- Individual chambers have set up wellbeing committees, policies and introduced initiatives such as mindfulness classes and mental health check-ups;
- The Young Barristers' Committee has launched a wellbeing guide on the Young Bar Hub and last summer hosted a YBC wellbeing seminar with the Bar Council;
- The Bar Council, Specialist Bar Associations and chambers have extended mentoring programmes;
- Middle Temple has launched Mindfulness Drop-in sessions;
- Chancery Bar Association has run wellbeing seminars for its members;
- The Bar Council has begun discussions with other professional organisations to share wellbeing ideas; and
- The Bar Council has been in talks with the Bar Standards Board about creating a regulatory environment which is sympathetic to wellbeing.
Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC, said: "Every piece of content on the Wellbeing at the Bar portal is about sharing best practice for dealing with the stresses and strains of practice and ensuring that support is available to all to meet the challenges of life at the Bar."