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MSB Solicitors Liverpool
Next week, May 8 - 14, marks mental health awareness week.
 
Poor mental health is one of the biggest issues in the workplace today, causing more than 70 million working days to be lost each year – a figure that has soared 24% since 2010.
 
One in five people admit to taking days of work due to stress and around a quarter of the working population say they would consider resigning through stress.
 
So what is causing this incline in poor mental health?
 
The effects of Government-imposed cuts on money, jobs and benefits are all certainly affecting factors. Add to that, that less than half of employees in the UK say they wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to their manager or line manager about feeling stressed at work.

Open door
 
Paul Bibby, managing partner at MSB says his firm has an open door policy, to help combat stress and anxiety in the workplace.
 
“How can you get to the route of a problem if you don’t talk about it,” he says.
 
“We run a regular and detailed staff appraisal programme, which provides an opportunity for open communication with our staff about personal and professional development, and discuss any challenges.
 
“Joanne Dalton who deals with our HR has trusted and developed relationships with all our staff, but I too encourage my staff – all my staff, at every level within the firm – to speak to me directly if and when they wish. My door is always open.
 
“My staff know that discussions are kept in the utmost confidence and that issues will be dealt with promptly and, where necessary, sensitively. It is just in our make-up.
 
“The physical and emotional wellbeing of our team has always been a priority and is very much part of the culture here at MSB.”
 
Poor management
 
In a survey of UK adults, 56% said they would not hire someone with depression, even if they were the best person for the job. Something Paul Bibby says is a shocking indictment of poor people management.
 
He adds: “I wonder if those same people, when questioned, would discriminate against people in poor physical health? I’m minded to think perhaps not.
 
“We have a responsibility as employers, particularly in light of the rise in mental health problems, to learn how to manage mental wellbeing in the workplace and provide the right support for our staff when they need it.”
 
Seek help
 
Somebody who is no stranger to suffering the effects of poor mental health is Louis Bever.
 
Louis joined MSB as a legal assistant in the family department in late 2016. In the months prior, Louis had battled anxiety, depression and OCD.
 
He says: “Around October last year, I wasn’t having the best time with my mental health. I experienced a couple of events which my brain didn’t react too well to and I found that I was losing interest in all the things I loved.”
 
Louis, usually a confident and creative person - photographer, skate-boarder and keen traveller – admits he simply didn’t feel himself, but says he realised he needed to talk to someone to get to the route of what was causing the change in him, so decided to consult his doctor.
 
He says: “I guess fellas don’t talk about their mental health too often and I was really embarrassed to tell my close friends about it. However looking back 6 months later, I think I would be more embarrassed if I didn’t seek proper help.  
 
“After talking things through, I decided to try and take matters into my own hands and get back to the things I loved most. I booked a holiday to Morocco. After all, nothing can boost my mood like warm weather, my Leica camera and good coffee.”
 
Speak out
 
Louis documented his journey and the positive impact it had on his mental health and in March this year, his article, honest in it’s depiction, was published in men’s mental health magazine, The Basement.
 
In his concluding paragraph, Louis urges others experiencing similar issues with their mental health to speak out about it, whether to friends or to a professional, and offers some advice on managing stress, saying: “Find a hobby, get stupidly infatuated with it and everything will be fine.”
 
Paul Bibby says Louis is a welcome addition to the MSB team: “Louis has fitted in remarkably well at MSB. He is always positive, polite and professional and I predict he has a great future ahead of him in the law.
 
“More than that, he is a shining example of what can be achieved by being brave and speaking out, and tackling mental health issues head on, rather than burying your head in the sand.”
 
Louis’ future looks bright in the law, he has just finished his pupillage at Harrington Street Chambers and plans to go to the bar. He adds: “As fellas, we are too scared to speak about our problems, which I think is ridiculous. Depression is the biggest killer for men under the age of 35 and we are less likely to seek help. The best thing I ever did was book that GP appointment... and that trip to Morocco!”

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