The Solicitors’ Charity (SBA) is today highlighting the rise in solicitors reporting poor mental health and signposts those affected by COVID-19 to its new £1 million Personal Hardship Fund.
The latest report from the charity, which publishes data about the circumstances of all its beneficiaries, shows a 68 percent increase in claimants declaring poor mental health from 19 percent to 32 percent.
The charity, which awarded nearly £1 million to 292 solicitors and/or their dependants last year, uses the data to inform both itself and its partners of any developments and/or concerns among the profession, so it can tailor its offering to those in need even more.
Mary Jackson, coordinator at LawCare, the legal mental health charity which partners with The Solicitors’ Charity said: “There’s still a misconception that solicitors are ruthless, tough and financially secure, strangers to adversity but they are indeed ‘only’ human as well as being highly driven professionals. Adversity can strike at any time and lawyers aren’t immune from hardship, at the core of every call we receive is stress, worry and often anxiety.
Nick Gallagher, CEO of The Solicitors’ Charity said: “Our annual statistics are often eye-opening, but such a dramatic increase in claimants declaring poor mental health was unexpected. I think there’s an element that people are increasingly more comfortable sharing that they are struggling mentally, whereas previously it was still something you wouldn’t talk about. This brings confidence that the wider message of talking about mental health is working, although it doesn’t provide a solution.
The findings follow the launch of the charity’s COVID-19 response in the form of a £1 million Personal Hardship Fund specifically for those affected by coronavirus who have exhausted other options such as government and statutory support or mortgage holidays.
Nick added: “It was vital that we put additional measures in place to cope with the difficulty many solicitors currently find themselves in. We’ve already processed payments for the initial applicants of the fund and really want to get the message out that we are here to help those in serious financial difficulty with nowhere else to turn during this time and hope the fund can provide some relief and reduce the stress and worry many in the profession are currently experiencing.”
For more information on The Solicitors’ Charity’s Personal Hardship Fund including eligibility and applying, visit its dedicated COVID-19 Support Hub at www.sba.org.uk/covid-19