End mental health stigma, says partner at major law firm

Article published in the Australasian Lawyer @Aus_Lawyer 18 May 2015 by Samantha Woodhill

A partner at a major firm has called on the profession to address the stigma around mental illness in lawyers.

Speaking at a mental health and the law forum at the University of Sydney last week, King & Wood Mallesons partner John Canning, called for the de-stigmatisation of mental illness in the legal profession.

Legal-Mental-Health“People can help breakdown stigmatisation by adopting the right policies and engendering a discussion,” Canning said. “Lawyers have come into focus because the statistics are one in three lawyers will suffer a depressive attitude in their life as opposed to one in five or one in seven in the general population. So we’ve got a propensity for it.”

Canning has been a strong advocate for mental health awareness since he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008.

He said that mental illness should be treated like any other illness in the workplace in order for it to be properly managed, and noted that a cancer patient would make colleagues aware of the condition and be supported accordingly.  Mental health should be treated in the same way, he argued.

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