“You worked hard to be here, wherever you are.
“You can do this.”
Risha Malaviya and Vuma Phiri are two grads in the 2019 class of Piddington PLT. Mental Health Week might be over for 2019, but we think mental health is something that should be on the agenda more than one week a year.
What Risha and Vuma have to say is something we think is worth sharing with you.
Entering the profession can be a difficult task, and too many people struggle in isolation.
The grads have ideas we think are helpful for junior and senior practitioners.
Richa Malaviya is completing her PLT placement at Law Access.
She is also the Vice President of Amnesty International in Western Australia, and has competed a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws and Master of Human Rights Law and Social Policy.
Vuma Phiri is a graduate at Cullen Macleod Lawyers.
She completed a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws at Curtin University, and has completed some of her PLT training with the Aboriginal Legal Service’s Kalgoorlie office.
Here’s what Richa and Vuma have to say.
1. Never dismiss your feelings
Talking yourself down and criticising yourself for the fact that you’re going through a tough time will only send you into a worse spiral.
2. Be open to being open.
Talking to professionals, or family and close friends does ease the burden you are carrying on your own
Find someone who is willing to sit down and listen and admit to them that you’re having a difficult time. The right person will be happy to help however they can. And chances are you’ll feel better for being able to lighten some of the load.
3. Find a healthy way to process your bad days and teachable moments
I choose to talk about it. Some choose to write about it. Some choose to burn their energy and adrenaline through exercise. No matter how you do it, reflect on what you go through.
You can seek a mentor to help you do this, especially someone in the field of law.
4. Regular movement and fresh air throughout your day
Mental exhaustion can impact your ability to keep going.
Getting away from your screen should be sought daily. Spending time outdoors also helps to refresh and recharge your mind and body.
5. Value rest and play
Your “play-time” as an adult is critical time.
It can be quiet and indoors, it can be adventurous and far from home.
Fill it with people who love you and who don’t exhaust you by requiring things from you. People who you can be yourself with. People who aren’t seeking you to fulfil a task.
If you work in a high-demand space, once in a while, it is good to minimise the demands and just have fun.
6. Avoid social media comparisons
Are Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn are killing your vibe and your grind? Let them go.
Giving words of congratulations only feels good when you’re not swarmed with feelings of jealousy or misconceptions of your own “failure”.
Take time out, fill yourself with affirmations and remind yourself this life is a journey of ups and downs. Then, wish your peers “congrats!” because they’ll be saying the same to you soon enough.
7. Shift your perspective
As a law student, law graduate or law clerk, you are learning a lot of new things.
You will get things wrong, you will make mistakes and you will learn. You are not an imposter in your field.
You worked to be here, wherever you are. And you can do this.
As well as Employee Assistance Programs, there are many avenues to get suport when things aren’t going well.
- If you become concerned about your own mental wellbeing, it may be a wise step to reach out to a general practitioner (‘GP’).
- GPs are often your family doctor but do not always have to be so. GPs provide a range of services including: initial assessments, medical treatment, psychological or ‘talking’ therapies, and/or referral to other mental health specialists.
- For Medicare or Health Care cardholders, bulk billing GP clinics will often provide their services free of charge or at a reduced fee.
- For non-Medicare or Health Care cardholders, a visit to the GP may cost anywhere between $36.30 to $80, depending on the type of clinic.
See a specialist
- Your GP may refer you to another mental health specialist under a Mental Health Care Plan that allows for those with diagnosed mental illnesses or disorders to be eligible for up to 10 free appointments.
- To learn more about these specialist and find one near you visit:
- Occupational therapist;
- Counsellor or therapist;
- Social worker;
- Psychiatrist ; or
Next year, consider signing up to a mentor program. There are plenty of mentoring programs out there for new lawyers and law students alike, including those organised by specialist associations focused on a particular area of law.
They will connect you with practitioners more senior to you to help you transition into practice, connect with like-minded professionals or help you build relationships with your colleagues.