BSG Bites 15: It’s Stress Awareness Month: But how aware are we?

It’s Stress Awareness Month: But how aware are we? 

There is plenty of advice freely available from the internet regarding how to alleviate stress and keep your mental health in check, but not so much on how we look out for others around us. Sometimes, it is not ourselves that need the help. Sometimes, in fact, we are ok – and there is nothing wrong with this, embrace it, it is a wonderful place to be in. However, what about those around us? Unless someone actively takes steps to tell you they are stressed, or to ask you for help, could you tell if they needed a help in hand?

Recently, my firm trained a number of its employees as Mental Health First Aiders. The training centred around not just identifying those who might be in need of someone to talk to, but being able to direct these people to the help that they may need.

Stress can have an unbelievable bearing on overall mental health and as aspiring or qualified legal professionals, we know all too well how stressful exams, work and deadlines can be. Whilst we can encourage those that wish to talk to approach us, not everyone is confident enough to do so and it is important that we understand what to look out for and how we can approach those who may be struggling.

Here are my top five things to look out for:

  1. Sudden disengagement with activities they once previously enjoyed.
  2. Withdrawing from socials, friends and family.
  3. Erratic or uncharacteristic behaviour.
  4. Sudden or drastic change in appearance and energy levels.
  5. Inability to concentrate and finish tasks which may result in missing deadlines.

This is only guidance, and sometimes someone is simply having a bad day, but if you notice any of the above on a reoccurring basis, it might be time to ask them to go for a walk or grab a coffee.

Please remember, unless specifically trained, neither you nor I are mental health advisers. It is simply our role to listen, and to do so without judgement. Sometimes this is all that is needed to help. But if more is required, we point this person in the right direction. There are a number of Charities that offer advice and guidance for those that are struggling. As you may be aware, Birmingham Solicitors Group have nominated Birmingham Mind as one of our Charities of the Year and they have a wide variety of resources and programmes for this purpose.

Whilst it is very important that we maintain our own mental well-being, if you are in a position to do so, look out for those around you, a quick chat may make the world of difference.

By Naomi Ramsay, Corporate Social Responsibility representative of Birmingham Solicitors’ Group and Solicitor at The Wilkes Partnership LLP.

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