Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Page

5 Top Tips to Starting a Conversation

  1. Start the conversation by simply asking ‘how are you’. You could mention specific concerns that you have observed “I noticed that you have been really quiet recently, is everything ok”
  2. Actively listen, give them your full attention and avoid interrupting.  Without the benefit of visual cues, you are not able to show that person you giving them your full attention so you need to demonstrate active listening skills such as summarising back what you have heard and using their words.
  3. Ask open questions – “How do you feel about…?”  “What do you think about…?” “Tell me more about that…” to invite a more detailed response. Avoid asking “why” as this can feel accusatory.
  4. Its ok not to have all the answers. You do not need to be an expert to talk about mental health. Just listening and showing your support can make a big difference.
  5. Schedule a check in with them in a few days to see how they are. With the lack of visibility, it will be harder to see whether they are moving forwards.

4 Tips for managing a virtual team

Unlike in a physical office space, remote teams do not have the same opportunities to interact outside the scope of work. For those new to remote working this can be quite a significant change, and can lead to some people feeling isolated.  People experience isolation in different ways, and a team member can believe they are the only one struggling resulting in a decrease in wellbeing.

Everyone will be having a very different experience of working from home so it is important to understand from those in your team what is working and what is not.  For some time away from office distractions may be welcomed whilst for others the lack of social contact will be taking its toll.  The key is to understand the individual’s perspective and find opportunities for them to connect with what they need.


Team meetings

Keeping your team informed and up-to-date regularly is vital to help create greater certainty during these uncertain times. We may be starting to get virtual meeting fatigue but it is important to continue using online meeting tools, such as Teams, Zoom, Google HangOut or LoopUp that allow people to engage with visual content, socially interact via webcams and use interactive chat tools to actively participate. When running team meetings, ensure the agenda allows everyone to contribute and keep the meeting as succinct as possible. Instead of running meetings for an hour, try and keep them to 45 minutes to allow people to break before going into their next one.


The importance of informal communication channels

Our virtual working world means that we have lost the natural interactions that come with working in an office. These interactions are not always about the scope of work and we develop personal relationships and bonds with colleagues. Create communication channels (e.g. WhatsApp or iMessage) that allow these interactions to continue. Be as creative as you can creating these communication channels. Some examples we have seen include short team quizzes, coffee break virtual meetings or sharing interesting articles. These do not need to be lengthy activities, but short breaks in the day to allow for informal interaction is important to keeping engagement up.

Note: Be clear on the purpose of the groups you set up and consider setting rules about what to post (e.g. a WhatsApp group may be good for non-work-based conversations and should not include any confidential or client information).

These channels are also an important way to celebrate diversity, continue fundraising efforts and create team challenges to promote physical wellbeing.  Such channels are a great way to show kindness to one another, to reach out to quieter individuals and to raise collective spirits.


Be less task focused

In the virtual environment, there is a tendency to over-focus on tasks and under focus on relationships. This can worsen the sense of isolation that naturally comes from working apart from others. There is a growing rise in e-presentism as employees feel the need to prove their worth out of fear for future job security and as our working hours become more flexible, boundaries are become increasingly blurred leading to burnout. According to LawCare, younger lawyers are dealing with increased anxiety connected to homeworking as they are on their own without someone that they can easily ask about things. Analysing workloads and making objective decisions about delegating work based on understanding how people are working is therefore key.


Watching your language

Language is a powerful tool that can create a feeling of safety and trust, making it easier for colleagues to disclose their concerns. Non-judgemental language is especially important when social distance can make it harder to come forward with any difficulties.


Many of you are familiar with the work that is done by lawcare, please do check out their website for our resources available during the week, including an article, social media images and new top tips for sleep. They are also encouraging people to share moments in their legal career when someone showed them kindness on social media during the week, using #momentofkindness and tagging us in. Please do take part, details will follow on webinars taking place during the week.


New resources have been added to the our covid support page on the website including webinars, managing furlough, practical steps to stay well when working from home and tips for leaders:


Here is an updated dropbox of the key covid resources:


And finally remember LawCare is there for emotional support the helpline is open every day Monday to Friday from 0900-1730, with email and webchat support also available, more details can be found on the website: