New Zealand Law Society - Asking for help a sign of integrity and strength

Asking for help a sign of integrity and strength

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In law "we take on a lot of stress," says former Solicitor-General, now barrister, Mike Heron QC.

"Certainly I was, and people I was working with were under a lot of stress," says Mr Heron, who was one of a number of lawyers who have contributed to the new Practising Well video.

This new video has just gone live on the Practising Well section of the New Zealand Law Society website.

"Everyone has their individual stressors, be it personal, professional, business – whatever. It just made me reflect, we need to support each other.

"Life's quite demanding. We need to talk about it and we need to support each other – in this profession particularly," Mr Heron says.

Screenshot from Practising Well video

Sharing your issues and asking for help were two of the major messages in the video, which says that the New Zealand Law Society believes "asking for help is a sign of integrity and strength".

"It's really important to recognise for yourself how you're feeling, not to push it down or ignore it because that's where a lot of mental health issues can develop," says Katherine Anderson, Director Legal and Risk at Auckland Council.

"I would say share it.

"You might not feel you can share it immediately with your boss but you have colleagues and you have people outside of work. The really important thing is to reach out and get help."

"Often it's that old adage about a problem shared is a problem solved," says Nick Chisnall, General Counsel at Ministry of Justice.

"The longer you hold onto something the worse it gets.

"People seldom react negatively if you ask for help. I think we've all walked in the same shoes at some stage in our career where things seem pretty bleak."

"Once you do have the courage to ask someone for help it's amazing what doors that opens and how people don't generally judge you," says Rachael Dewar of Rachael Dewar Law, Wellington.

"It's just a sign that you're human like everyone else. In fact some practitioners are enormously relieved when you ask them for help and they feel really flattered that you have done so.

"Often your colleagues will know if things aren't great. They will know if you're not yourself. So it's a helpful thing to just get it out there on the table with someone you trust. It shouldn't be seen as a weakness, certainly."

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