UNSW supports graduate lawyer mental health with introduction of Mindarma

UNSW supports graduate lawyer mental health with introduction of Mindarma

Graduate lawyers will be equipped with vital psychological skills as part of the new Practical Legal Training (PLT) program offered by the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Those undertaking the course will complete Mindarma, an evidence-based online resilience training program.

Mindarma was developed by Dr Sadhbh Joyce following world-first research, carried out in association with UNSW, the Black Dog Institute and Fire and Rescue NSW. Recently published results from a successful randomised control trial, demonstrate an impressive range of mental health benefits. The study, undertaken with 143 firefighters, found significant increases in psychological resilience, mindfulness, optimism and the use of healthy coping strategies amongst those who completed the trial program.

Mindarma has been fully customised for UNSW Law to reflect many of the unique challenges and pressures which lawyers face when entering the profession. Lawyers are known to be one of the occupational groups at highest risk for developing common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. In addition to long hours and demanding workloads, their work can be adversarial in nature and cases can have life-altering implications for those involved.

“When developing our Practical Legal Training program, we were acutely aware that good mental health is essential to successful legal practice.  Through our collaboration with the Mindarmateam, we are able to equip graduate lawyers with a range of essential psychological skills from the very start of their careers. With 2-year access to Mindarma, we are ensuring that support is available to our graduates during their PLT, and also in their first year of practice,” said Assoc. Professor Vedna Jivan, Director UNSW PLT.

Dr Joyce developed Mindarma with the aim of bringing practical, preventative resources to all types of challenging roles. “We are proud to see research that originated at the Black Dog Institute and UNSW being used across the University and used to support graduate lawyers as they enter the workforce,” says Dr Joyce. Customised versions of Mindarma are also being used by organisations including Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Ambulance, Corrective Services NSW and Reuters.

Mindarma has been designed to enhance resilience, develop mindfulness and equip workers with a number of important psychological skills. Developing mindfulness is a key focus of the interactive ten session program. Through Mindarma, learners discover what to do when faced with difficult thoughts, uncomfortable emotions and times of high stress. The program also promotes help-seeking behaviour, encourages the development of healthy coping strategies and allows learners to develop their own personalised plan of action for especially tough days on the job. Enrolment for the first intake of this innovative program closes on 8 February 2020.