Acknowledging that barristers, clerks and chambers staff can be exposed to emotionally and psychologically challenging environments on a daily basis, the Bar Council has teamed up with the Inns of Court and Institute of Barristers’ Clerks to develop the 24/7 online support resource.
The portal provides access to wellbeing events, real-life accounts from barristers, sample chambers’ wellbeing policies and activities and contact points for those needing advice or help on a wellbeing or mental health matter.
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. The website provides information and skills to help barristers and those they work with to stay well.
‘Our main aim in producing this new portal is to encourage barristers, clerks and others to recognise and address the negative effects of working in a high pressure environment at an early stage, before they risk getting out of hand. Equally, we hope that those already in need of help will use this website as a first port of call for getting help.’
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 [Wellbeing at the Bar] 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.
‘Putting this support online means anyone, at any time can go on the portal from anywhere to access what they need. But this website is only the beginning. The portal will evolve with more resources over time.
‘We now want the Bar to give us feedback as well as take important advice from it. We are also planning further initiatives, such as wellbeing training and more.’