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Irish Lawyers Urged to Mind Their Mental Health

At a recent William Fry CounselConnect virtual Conference, over 170 in-house legal counsel from across Ireland heard Antoinette Moriarty, Psychotherapist & Organisation Consultant in conversation with Richard Breen and Claire Waterson. The theme – how COVID-19 was impacting on the  individual and work-related wellbeing and mental health of in-house counsel. Antoinette explored useful psychological frameworks that help with meaningful change. 

Please click on the following if you wish to watch the briefings and register for CPD Points: Part 1: COVID-19 Driven Updates to Company Law and Corporate Governance Rules here, Part 2: Dialling Down the Drama here, From restrictive covenants to lockdown restrictions – key employment law developments from 2020 here, Using Documents in Litigation – Some Recurring Issues here, and EU Action Plan for Sustainable Finance here

During the interactive session, delegates were invited to reflect on their own wellbeing – 9 months into the pandemic. While 31% of delegates reported feeling ‘Very Well’, only  4% were feeling ‘Excellent’ with 51% simply feeling ‘Okay’

Moving from the personal to the professional, Antoinette asked participants if they ever experience the World Health Organization (WHO) defined symptoms of burn-out. 78% of respondents confirmed feeling ‘exhaustion/energy depletion’, 75% have felt ‘mentally distanced from/negative about work’ while 58% have experienced ‘reduced professional efficacy’. 

Delegates were encouraged to tend to their own wellbeing needs and need for healthy personal/professional boundaries as a priority. This is what will enable them to meet the multi-faceted demands of their roles and the complex demands of their organisations. When polled which of Mental Health Ireland’s 5 ways to wellbeing they currently include in their week, 70% replied they looked for ways to be active every day, 29% make time to connect with the people around them while 21% are trying something new or had taken up an old interest. 

Antoinette Moriarty, Psychotherapist & Organisation Consultant, concluded with the following words of guidance for delegates: “Change is only possible when we become fully aware of and accept ourselves and our circumstances – exactly as we are. When we stop looking ahead or behind, when we stop judging and criticising – ourselves, others or our circumstances – and simply notice and pay attention to what it’s like to be – in the here and now. Once we become fully aware of ourselves and our circumstances not only will change become possible – it will become unavoidable”. 

Speaking on the series, Richard Breen, Co-Head of CounselConnect said; “I am delighted that CounselConnect was able to proceed this year in a virtual setting. This year brought unforeseen challenges for employers, staff and businesses who had to adapt to COVID-19 in various ways and continue to face challenges.  Mental health is so important and we were delighted to be able to bring this session to lawyers working in-house in Ireland.  Most strikingly, employers need to be aware that the WHO defines “burn-out” as an organisational issue rather something that arises from personal weakness or vulnerability so employers should ensure to have appropriate measures in place.”

Full Poll Results to Short Survey


Have you ever experienced any of the following WHO burn-out symptoms?

  • 78% – Exhaustion/energy depletion
  • 66% – Cynical about your work
  • 75% – Feeling mentally distanced from/negative about your work
  • 58% – Reduced professional efficacy 

How are you – really?

  • 4% – Excellent
  • 31% – Very Well
  • 55% – Okay
  • 10% – Not okay 

Which of the Mental Health Ireland’s 5 ways to wellbeing do you currently include in your week?

  • 70% – Be Active
  • 29% – Connect
  • 21% – Take Notice
  • 21% – Give
  • 29% – Keep Learning