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As US Mental Health Awareness Month (May) draws to a close, mental health campaigner Emily Collins, vice president of Kilburn & Strode’s San Francisco’s liaison office, reflects on how wellbeing and work success are inextricably linked.
IP is a competitive field, full of high achievers and perfectionists. The nature of the work means there is a constant demand to meet deadlines and to deliver high quality results. There’s also a lot of pressure to succeed, which means it’s easy to prioritise work performance ahead of other things in life. This can lead to a lack of balance. If their mental health starts to suffer, lawyers often have a desire to hide the issue rather than to address it.
This is partly because improving mental health takes time and energy, and IP lawyers can feel that it is “selfish” to spend time on themselves instead of on work. As law can be a competitive environment, people are afraid seeking help might have a negative impact on their career.
Because there isn’t an open conversation around mental health, it’s easy to assume that everyone else is coping, which might not be the case. I think lawyers often worry that they might be seen as unable to cope if they seek help for their mental health. Getting help for a mental health problem is a very brave thing to do. It is only ever a strength, not a weakness.
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Mental health, Awareness Month, Kilburn & Strode, Emily Collins, wellbeing, diversity, law firms, productivity