More than 50% of barristers do not sleep properly and hundreds are “emotionally exhausted”, according to a report published by the Bar Council.

The results, which followed a survey completed by 2,456 barristers, showed that 1,152 (47%) felt high levels of stress at work, with two thirds stating that their current level of stress had a negative impact on their performance.

Of the respondents, 384 (15%) reported feeling down or low in mood most or all the time and a fifth said they experienced shifts in mood most or all the time.

Criminal barristers and those aged 35-55 reported the highest level of work pressure and lowest mood.

More than half (1,364) said they did not enjoy good quality, refreshing sleep and 350 said they experienced emotional exhaustion.

Stigma around stress prevented individuals from seeking help. While few reported they were mentored, those who were, showed lower levels of work place stress and were significantly less likely than others to report low mood.

Alistair MacDonald QC, Chairman of the Bar, said the findings were a “major concern”.

“For too long, stress, mental health and wellbeing have been taboo subjects of discussion at the Bar and the wider legal sector,” he said.

He said the Bar Council would put in place initiatives to tackle the issues, including a mentoring scheme and an education programme to bring about a “cultural change” in relation to wellbeing at the Bar.

See Wellbeing at the Bar and Chairman’s Column for further analysis.