"Until a couple of years ago, wellbeing and mental health were not talked about by the profession. It was seen as a sign of weakness, though we all knew it was an issue. Thanks to the Bar Council survey in 2014, the subsequent report and efforts right across the Bar to raise this as an issue of high importance which can impact on our performance as barristers, wellbeing and mental health now loom large on the Bar's and the wider legal sector's agenda.”
- Rachel Spearing, barrister and co-founder of the Wellbeing at the Bar initiative
In October 2016, the Bar Council launched the Wellbeing at the Bar Portal, a website to provide support and best practice to barristers, clerks and chambers on wellbeing and mental health issues.
The portal is the product of collaboration between the Bar Council, the Inns of Court and the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks.
Since the launch (and to the end of March 2017), the website has had 74,286 ‘visits’ and has generated positive feedback from members of the profession.
The portal hosts information on wellbeing events, real-life stories from professionals sharing their experiences, sample chambers' wellbeing policies and activities, and useful contact numbers for those needing advice or help on wellbeing or mental health matters.
The launch of the Wellbeing at the Bar Portal came after a Bar Council survey in 2014 which received over 2,500 responses from the profession. The survey results and subsequent report highlighted the challenges some members of the Bar were facing in their work with regard to mental health.
In 2017, the Bar Council has developed the portal to provide further tools to support the profession in relation to wellbeing.
In addition, the Bar Council:
- Produced a vicarious trauma training workshop with the Family Law Bar Association, the Criminal Bar Association and the South Eastern Circuit in early September
- Ran a Wellbeing Session at the Annual Bar & Young Bar Conference (October 2016), and
- Focused on Wellbeing at an Equality and Diversity Officers’ Network event in January 2017, with guest speakers including solicitors who work with chambers, to discuss wellbeing and managing mental health in chambers.
"Every piece of content on the Wellbeing at the Bar portal is about sharing best practice for dealing with the stresses and strains of practice and ensuring that support is available to all to meet the challenges of life at the Bar. The website provides information and skills to help barristers and those they work with to stay well.”
- Chair of the Bar 2016, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC
Contact and further information
The Bar Council
289-293 High Holborn