EPIC recently sponsored and spoke at the RAND Corporation’s “Well-Being in the Los Angeles Legal Community: From Promise to Practice” forum last month. Senior Wellness Consultant, Craig Schmidt, presented on a panel about what the legal community can learn from corporate wellness programs and academic research, enhancing the evolving dialogue around attorney mental health. Recognizing that many lawyers struggle with substance abuse or mental health disorders, the American Bar Association recently launched an initiative to improve the wellbeing of those in the legal profession. The ABA pledge, as well as the related efforts of law firms and law schools throughout the country, reflect a commitment to improving the environment in which many lawyers operate.

Craig shared these observations, following the event.

Well-Being in the Los Angeles Legal Community: From Promise to Practice

This past month, I had the opportunity to sit in on a Research And Development (RAND Corporation) forum focused on mental health and wellbeing in the Los Angeles legal community. I felt privileged and honored to be a panelist for this groundbreaking discussion and see firsthand from the audience what struggles and obstacles exist on a day-to-day basis from both the corporate and the employee point of view. Though this particular forum focused on the legal community these struggles are seen in many organizations across the country. Here are some questions I want to highlight:

1. As the younger generation is starting to grow in the workforce how can employers be more appealing, attracting and retaining talent?

“Millennials,” and now “Generation Z,” comprise most of the workforce in the United States. These generations look at careers and employers through a different lens than previous generations. Prospective employees in these generational categories are taking more of a consumer approach, evaluating factors such as work flexibility, wellbeing benefits, and purpose (being part of a larger cause) when choosing a career path or employer.

Do your benefit offerings appeal to this young, driven workforce, or do you see opportunities to improve your culture and be open to engaging your employees in new ways? A career in law comes with a fear of burnout; how can your company offer tools and flexibility to show prospective employees that you value their time away from the office as much as you value the work they put in while on the clock?

2. Mental health and illness can come with a negative connotation and stigma. How can you change this conversation in and around your workplace?

No one wants to be labeled as mentally ill and individuals who may benefit from mental wellness sometimes avoid seeking support and training until it’s too late. As a company, this can be a complicated situation – you want to do what’s right without intruding into your employees’ personal lives. Consider creating a stigma-free workplace where employees feel secure in reaching out for help. Introduce mindfulness or cognitive behavioral concepts into your workplace using trained professionals to educate your employees. Communicate positive messaging around your current Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or behavioral health benefits to remind employees of their access and train managers and supervisors to be cognizant of signs of burnout, stress, anxiety and depression.

Mental health and wellbeing should always be included in your corporate wellness strategy.

Ask yourself the following: What cultural aspects can you improve to attract new employees and retain the high-performing employees you already have? How can this culture support and encourage development in professional and personal growth? What training can you offer to staff, supervisors and managers to identify, manage and combat obstacles concerning mental and emotional health?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the space companies find themselves; supporting their employees beyond the traditional mental health and wellbeing services. What progressive, forward-thinking ideas or concepts have you implemented?

Looking to collaborate with EPIC Wellness & Health Management? Reach out – we are excited to brainstorm and be a partner in your efforts.

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Craig Schmidt Headshot
Craig Schmidt

Senior Wellness Consultant - Concord, CA