A growing repository of wallet-sized ‘self-help’ cards that cover commons stressors in the professional environment, including explanations and methods for coping in a visual and digestible format, organized by ‘define, determine and deal.’
A high-performance culture, arguably anticipated and acknowledged in most professional services industries, creates a series of unique challenges. In the legal industry, in particular, long hours, large caseloads, client demands, and artificial deadlines can have a material impact on anxiety levels and wellbeing as a whole. ‘Wallet Wellbeing’ as a concept has been created to promote the importance of good mental health and to foster a community of openness in discussing mental illness.
A culture of good mental health is important to a high-performance culture. For this reason, I have also actively sought out information to serve as guidance for workplace stress and functioning optimally in professional services environments.
As a data and information enthusiast, for years I have kept records of helpful advice on well-being and resilience, organized by different themes. This includes snippets from magazines, quotations, saved Instagram posts, and bookmarked publications. During a difficult time a few years back, my mother sent me wallet-sized cards all the way to London from Toronto that provided helpful guidance, explanations, and quotes to promote stronger mental health. Examples included being kind to yourself, compare and despair, and making peace with time. I found the cards immensely helpful, particularly in the professional setting, where it’s important to stop, reflect and plan before responding. I always kept these cards to myself (specifically in my wallet), but over the years I started to share them and become more open about how they helped me during difficult times.
With a strong commitment to promoting wellbeing in the workplace and an inclination to create structured data sets, I started organizing the topics into themes. With each theme, I created questions for the purpose of self-awareness, in regards to that particular stressor (Determine). Lastly, I formulated possible suggestions for dealing with each stressor (Deal). The result is a compilation of several stressors, each with three components: Define, Determine and Deal.
These cards seek to assist our colleagues and community to identify, self-analyse, and work out possible solutions for various day-to-day issues (including some mental health topics) both in the workplace and at home. We all go through difficult times and we all need to be cognisant of how our behaviour impacts others. We also have the power to translate knowledge into our day-to-day lives and interactions. This is why I have decided to create what I hope to be a repository of ‘Wallet Wellbeing’ cards – to promote the importance of wellbeing and resilience, namely in the legal sector.
A wide body of research has revealed that wellbeing in the legal sector is a cause for concern, such as the International Bar Association’s recent interim survey results on wellbeing in the legal profession. This survey revealed wellbeing issues have a disproportionate impact on “the young, women, those who identify as an ethnic minority and those with disabilities.” The survey’s findings also revealed the issue of stigma, which additionally came up as a key theme emerging from The Law Society of Scotland’s recent report, detailing perceived stigma and/or discrimination translating into many respondents not feeling comfortable disclosing mental health issues at work.
In supporting the excellent efforts of law firms and other organizations to address mental health in the legal industry, I want to help others feel supported and comfortable speaking about mental health without stigma. My first iteration of cards (which have been a work in progress) includes ‘Catastrophizing’ and ‘Work Fatigue – Burnout’. You can view them digitally or print them out to keep in your wallet, for easy access.
I invite others to reach out to contribute to the growing set of cards and I hope they provide some sort of support, comfort, or insight, which my mother’s cards originally provided me with!
The opinions expressed in this article are solely the author's and not necessarily representative of the views of ILTA. Please contact your physician or the Human Resources department for your organization before proceeding or for formal support, please see the below resources.
USA: Contact Us | Mental Health America (mhanational.org)
UK: Information & Support | Mind, the mental health charity - help for mental health problems