Slaughter and May is one of the UK’s leading law firms, advising more UK FTSE companies than any other firm. With an impressive portfolio of clients, and a commitment to delivering excellence, Slaughter and May understands that a mental wellbeing strategy is essential in enabling staff to perform to the best of their abilities. The firm encourages employees at every level to understand the importance of mental health, while providing them with access to support and other tools they may need.
Having first heard about MHFA training courses through the firm’s membership of the City Mental Health Alliance, Katie Gledhill, Head of HR Advisory and Resourcing at Slaughter and May, saw MHFA as an effective way to bolster the firm’s mental health support. Slaughter and May subsequently embarked on its first training course in May 2016 and has so far trained ten members of its HR and Learning and Development teams.
The legal profession is fast-paced and often high-pressured, with clients setting high expectations. In response, Slaughter and May has developed a broad approach to supporting mental wellbeing in the workplace, just as it supports physical wellbeing.
"We see this very much as a journey and our focus in the last year has primarily been on raising awareness across the firm."
The offer of MHFA training is just one aspect of Slaughter and May’s wellbeing strategy. The firm has a series of initiatives designed to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining good mental health in the workplace. Katie explains: “We see this very much as a journey and our focus in the last year has primarily been on raising awareness across the firm. The majority of our employees work from one London office which makes awareness raising initiatives easier. For example, we’ve been able to invite the London office to talks on mental wellbeing, and our involvement in the Lord Mayor’s ‘This is Me – in the City’ Green Ribbon campaign has been something the whole office could see we championed and got behind.”
Another key element of Slaughter and May’s awareness raising strategy is to encourage employees to take ownership of their own mental health. Therefore, the firm is keen to ensure it provides the necessary resources, including the provision of MHFA trained staff.
As Katie explains: “We expect a lot from our people and therefore we strive to put in place the best possible support for them. Details of our Mental Health First Aiders can easily be found on our intranet alongside those of our physical first aiders. People are able to find out where they can go to get many forms of support at work, including our EAP scheme that can include a counselling package to watching a video of previous talks that have taken place.”
Since starting MHFA training over a year ago, Katie explains that feedback on the course has been positive. She finds that having Mental Health First Aiders available on-site is an effective step in embedding a supportive culture.
Looking ahead, workplace wellbeing remains very much on the agenda for Slaughter and May, with a view to widening access to mental health training to managers over the next year. Katie concludes: “Ultimately those at the top drive the culture at the firm, so by targeting those in management positions we should be able to do more to establish a single, unified approach to mental health in our workplace.”