[Ed. Note: This episode discusses sensitive issues including depression and suicide. -GL]

Mental health and wellbeing issues have long posed challenges in the legal profession.

However, in this thoughtful episode of The Geek in Review podcast, hosts Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert have an enlightening discussion with three experts on concrete ways to foster greater wellness.

Defining wellbeing holistically, Bree Buchanan, co-founder of the Well-Being in Law Movement, explains it encompasses mental, emotional, occupational, spiritual, and physical dimensions. She argues the profession needs “systemic, structural change” through total leadership buy-in, not just HR-led programs. As Buchanan emphasizes, “What I see frequently, then you’ll have a practice group or a team, and the leader of that is not bought into this at all.”

Reviewing startling statistics from a new Thomson Reuters survey, Nita Cumello reveals over 50% of legal professionals have taken a mental health day this past quarter. She worries this implies “even more days spent, where they’re operating in a negative or stressed or in best case, state of neutral headspace.” Cumello asserts, “if more than half of the people are struggling with mental health difficulties enough that it forces them to take time away from work, it means that there are even more days spent, where they’re operating in a negative or stressed or in best case, state of neutral headspace.”

Saskia Mehlhorn courageously shares her family’s painful experience losing her youngest son to suicide and the importance of removing stigma through authenticity. As she recounts her eldest son telling her, “You can’t make the last thing that people will know about [him] something that isn’t him.” Mehlhorn stresses, “if someone lives authentically, we have to pick them up at the point where we, as a family, as a community, as a society fail and don’t allow them to live authentically any longer.”

Offering insights on providing genuine support, the guests emphasize taking helpful actions, active listening without platitudes, and cueing off what colleagues need. Buchanan advises firms should intervene to assist struggling employees rather than ignore issues or terminate them. She observes, “there’s much more willingness to sit down and give the person a chance and work with them.”

Cumello concludes wellbeing can’t be crowded out by urgent business demands, stating “we have to keep the wellbeing movement as and think about it in that reframe sense of how foundational it is to perform optimally.” She advocates assessing workforce wellbeing, training at all levels, and equipping leaders to role model healthy behaviors to drive lasting cultural change.

Listen on mobile platforms:  ⁠Apple Podcasts⁠ |  ⁠Spotify⁠ | YouTube (NEW!)


The Unmind report on The State of WellBeing in Law

Thomson Reuters Future of Professionals Report

DIal 988 – Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

Contact Us: 

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Music: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Jerry David DeCicca⁠⁠⁠⁠


Marlene Gebauer 0:07
Welcome to The Geek in Review. The podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal profession. I’m Marlene Gebauer.

Greg Lambert 0:15
And I’m Greg Lambert. So we have a rate episode this week to recognize September and October being suicide awareness month and Mental Health Awareness Month respectively. Now, I did want to put a disclaimer or warning upfront here that we are going to be dealing with some sensitive issues on this episode that some of you may not be comfortable with, with hearing at this point, but we just want to let you know you may want to skip this one. But it’s still it will be here when and if you are ready for it. So Marlene, I’ll let you introduce our guest today.

Marlene Gebauer 0:54
We have three fantastic guests this week. Saskia Mehlhorn, our fellow Houstonian who’s the director of knowledge and research services at Norton Rose Fulbright, nita Cumello, global client, Director and Director of well being global large law firms at Thomson Reuters and Bree Buchanan, Senior Advisor at krill strategies, LLC, and co founder of the well being in law movement. Saskia Nita and Bree, welcome to The Geek in Review. Thank you.

Greg Lambert 1:24
Good to have all three of you here. So before we get started, Bree, I want you to kind of line us up here and get us all on the same page. Can you start off by explaining what you mean when you talk about well being when you talk to your clients? And when you talk to the audience to whom you present?

Bree Buchanan 1:44
Great question to start us off, Greg, and thank you for having me here. When there was a group of folks who came together in 2016, that we really paid a lot of attention to these issues. We wrote that national taskforce report that really changed things so much. And the first thing we knew we had to do was defined the terms we had to define what does well being mean when we talk about that. And so one of the things we looked at is the World Health Organization’s definition of it. But ultimately, what what we came up in regards to well being are six dimensions of well being mental, emotional, occupational, spiritual, physical. So there’s the piece of that which is applicable for everybody in the legal profession. Another piece of that wellbeing definition includes helping those of us like me, who developed alcohol use disorders, or depression or anxiety and make sure that we get resources and help to them as well.

Marlene Gebauer 2:43
You have survey information on the topic of wellbeing. And in fact, you have a brand new survey that you’ve it’s a brand new survey, right, that you’ve completed and released this month, would you cover what types of statistics that you’ve pulled together on the issue of wellbeing and mental health in the legal industry?

Nita Cumello 3:02
Sure. And I want to be I want to clarify that it’s actually not a survey that Thomson Reuters put out, it’s a it’s a survey that one of our partners at unmined put out, and I’m happy to talk about that. And also, if you don’t mind, just, I’d love to take just a couple of seconds, and maybe piggyback off of what Bree said about what well being means because I think that please do. There’s what well being mean, sort of generally, and then you know what well being means for the legal industry. And, you know, I kind of have a lot of thoughts about what well being means for the legal industry. And I kind of feel like I’m constantly evolving my position of this. For a long time, I would often say things like, I’m so passionate about wellbeing, and that well being is really kind of foundational to, you know, future of work because it enables for the optimization and empowerment of people to endure and thrive in a world that is just so dynamically changing and transforming like the legal industry. And it is and I maintain this position, still very fervent, fervently but I also think it’s not really enough to just communicate it in this way. I think what well being means for the legal industry, you know, right now, in this particular moment, is really more about enabling a future, you know, for lawyers and for legal professionals in which we don’t, I think over rotate on any one specific concepts like the importance of technology, for example, and what can be used to, like replace us or make us more efficient in the ways that we work. I think that well being is really foundational for us to develop, you know, human skills and competencies in ways that the things that we really focus on a lot like in technology won’t be able to replicate. Those are things like creativity, like empathy, like adaptability or critical thinking or connection. And I think that these are skills that are just so important for legal professionals and the value that they bring going forward in a world that is so dominated by a I in technology. And I think as an industry, we have to be really mindful and intentional about how we nurture and develop these skills for individuals, but also for teams and for firms and organizations as a whole. It’s actually in that vein that I was really excited to read. And I’m happy to kind of promote and share the statistics Marlene, that you mentioned that our friends at unmined actually just released a new report, September 28, on the state of well being in the law. And I think what this report does is it draws attention to and highlights like the impact of wellbeing. And I guess the perceived supportive well being on performance in the legal sector. And, you know, their stated objectives in the report or in the survey that they conducted, were really to kind of do three things they were trying to understand workplace well being, they were trying to measure financial impact, and they’re also trying to benchmark well being within the legal sector. So some of the stats that really stood out to me, I think it’s a important to note that they worked with six very large firms in the United States, they collected data from over 3800, lawyers and professionals. And they captured across eight dimensions that impact workplace wellbeing and mental health. Some of the key stats that really stood out to me 52% of employees have taken at least one day off in the last quarter due to mental health difficulties. And why this is important to me is the underlying message that this should really signal to us and to anyone running a law firm right now, or any organization, if more than half of the people are struggling with mental health difficulties enough that it forces them to take time away from work, it means that there are even more days spent, where they’re operating in a negative or stressed or in best case, state of neutral headspace. And we know that if you’re operating in that negative, stressed or neutral, that you’re definitely not operating in an optimal headspace are at peak performance. And that is a problem. You know, for organizations like law firms that thrive on having a competitive advantage for delivering a high level of client service for having fulfilment amongst their lawyers and their employees, you know, for a whole host of reasons. And other staff that stood out to me is that over a third of respondents said that they don’t feel that their firm is committed to supporting their mental health. And to me, that’s just unacceptable, and something that doesn’t really require too much left to turn around like that perception. And finally, the last stat that I’ll share from the report that I think should hit every stakeholder in the law firm in the gut is the estimated financial losses that are related to presenteeism to absenteeism to attrition that is related to well being. The annual cost that they reported on average in this report was over $21 million a year for our firm. And the lowest scoring dimension that contributed to this in the study is the employee perception of senior leadership’s commitment to wellbeing. Because one in five people said that they don’t trust that senior leaders and firms are making decisions that are in the best interest of their well being. So in my view, these are all things that we can kind of, you know, work on through education through training through reducing stigma and focusing on human skills.

Greg Lambert 8:37
I wanted to follow up on the issue where you said one in five, believe that the senior leadership at the firm word this in the wrong way, but essentially don’t have the best interest of people of their workers mental health. At Issue. Do you think that’s generational, that this is the the older group that has, you know, and again, this might be jumping a little bit, but we used to be very reactive, when it came to how we dealt with this. And it was deep, whether it was drug issues, alcohol issues, mental health issues, we waited until something kind of exploded before we did anything. And you know, there’s and there’s this whole idea of past generations kind of giving the you know, suck it up and move on. So, do you think this is because you have a younger generation that has a different expectation to be more Preact active on this, rather than reactive? And also that this may be oversimplification is they have the language now to express what they’re expectations are that am I kind of on the right path here?

Nita Cumello 10:04
I think so I think you hit the nail on the head, I think that there is a generational component to this. And if you look at the breakdown of the folks who responded on the survey, I think that half of the respondents were made up of partners and associates, and half of the respondents were made up of the professional staff at the organization. So you’re, you can sort of make the determination that if a quarter of the folks are partners, that you’re probably dealing with a slightly older generation, you know, generally speaking, that that said, you know, I think you’re right, I do think that there’s a generational demand, I also wouldn’t attribute it entirely to that, because there was not a single one of us, who was not impacted by going through an enduring a global pandemic, where we were all forced to kind of reassess our personal priorities and what was important to every single one of us. And I think that this in and of itself created a bit of a movement and an awareness and an appreciation for doing the things that have meaning and purpose in our lives, and how fundamental that is to a state of well being.

Marlene Gebauer 11:14
I just find it really fascinating that, you know, that statistic about how, again, employees aren’t feeling that their issues are being addressed, because firms spend, I don’t even know how much money I mean, you know, in wellness initiatives, I mean, all firms have them all firms publicize them. And, and, you know, it doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark. So I’m wondering if anybody has any thoughts about that as to why that would be.

Bree Buchanan 11:43
I think what I see in law firms is there is a lot of awareness about the value and importance of well being and initiatives and resources by the HR department, by Oh, there may be some people in the management team who think about this, but a challenge that we’re experiencing right now is really to get to the point where this awareness and concern is saturated through all levels of a law firm, because what I see frequently, then you’ll have a practice group or a team. And the leader of that is not bought in to this at all. It’s like, yeah, those people can take vacations, but we’re the top dogs and we don’t take vacations. We don’t do that. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And that undermined so much, right?

Greg Lambert 12:28
Well, and I think another thing then, and we all saw it through the pandemic, but we also saw it through the the 2008 economic downturn is that firms will do a lot of programs, when times are good, and throw money at it, throw time at it, but when times get tight, they tend to go right back to old habits. So you know, and I remember, in 2008, having programs that were talking about how to better serve clients, it was hoped programs that were set up around it. And then as soon as the economy tanked, all of those programs went out the window and went right back to, to what we knew. And so that wasn’t a time to experiment with this. And so I wonder if some of the folks that are you said, a third of them thought that their firms weren’t helping, that they see these programs as window dressing and checking a box.

Nita Cumello 13:30
That’s exactly what I was gonna say. I think that a lot of the sort of early action that we saw, particularly in the beginning of the pandemic, was that exactly what you signed, Greg, like this, check the box, you know, we signed the pledge, we subsidize a gym membership, and, you know, check check, we’ve like, taken care of our well being program. And you know, I don’t mean to minimize that those things are all important. I think that there’s an element of a lot of the work, or the investment that was made by so many organizations really put the onus upon the individual still, to take advantage of whatever it was or to make the time, but from an organizational or cultural level. And in the firm itself, nothing was actually changing. So, you know, how are they really dedicated to spending time developing people and, you know, helping them see a connection to their meaning and purpose or creating a feeling of kind of collaboration and managerial support, like what Bree said are role modeling, like those sort of organizational pillars of workplace health and well being that don’t put the onus upon the individual, but really where the organization takes some of that onus is where I think the rubber meets the road and where firms that do really well in those areas will probably see a better sentiment from their people a more proactive approach.

Bree Buchanan 14:56
Just to amplify what Nita was saying because this is such a huge issue that the impression that there’s window dressing, absolutely when that what affirm offers, I refer to sort of the fun runs and hot yoga view of well being. And and people see that it’s like you’re putting this on me, I don’t have time to do all of this stuff, because of the billable hours or whatever are the the structures that are set up, we need the firm to make the change. That’s the hard stuff. But that’s what has got to happen for us to have systemic structural change in the profession.

Marlene Gebauer 15:32
Yeah, like what you’re pointing out about, you know, the individual responsibility, because it seems like we have to go a little deeper, like we have to actually relationships and sort of, you know, people touch has to be much more part of these types of programs, I think, to get the response that that law firms are looking for any thoughts on that?

Saskia Mehlhorn 15:54
I’m just going to pivot a little bit, because I understand that it’s really sometimes the programs that are put on, they’re more geared toward the physical well being and eating healthy living a good life, but and not going overboard. But one of the things that I think we all have to take on our own shoulders is that we need to talk about it because there is a stigma about mental health and admitting that that someone has has mental health issues, that someone is not feeling up to par to what’s put in front of them. And that is extremely difficult to talk about. And that has really not changed as much as the programs that are put out there. And I think it’s a combination of really being in a position where you can do that, I think that partners have a better position there to really be the ones that vocalize it. I don’t think you can expect from from a junior associate that they say, Well, I’m just, this is just too much for me. They will, it’s there is this barrier. And it’s extremely hard to admit. But then also those of us that are in business services and are in a more secure position where we don’t have to be afraid to speak up and to bring this on, we also have to be the ones that are advocating for awareness and to really taking away the stigma,

Marlene Gebauer 17:22
Saskia, you actually raise a really good point that if people do speak up, then I think what often happens is, you know, either it’s ignored, or you know, everyone is like, oh, and then they treated with kid gloves, but then the work never comes back. And because people don’t, people are afraid to sort of address it as, as you’ve said, and and it’s just kind of a vicious circle that way.

Bree Buchanan 17:50
That it’s hard to tell your story and break the stigma. It’s one of the most critical things that we can do. Because what’s holding us back and what keeps people from getting help is the stigma that surrounds mental health. What we need to flip, flip the story is that it’s okay to have these problems. And the best thing you can do is access help as soon as possible. And a way we do that is exposed people to someone who’s had that experience who’s experienced depression, anxiety, a substance use disorder and see hey, that’s a real person. And there’s still a lawyer or something. And and that’s the kind of thing slowly but surely you can chip away at stigma that it’s hard. Yeah. With Mark makes a lot of card.

Marlene Gebauer 18:34
Yeah. Well, I know. All of you know all of you have have personal stories. And you know, I know we want to take some time to talk about those and your experiences. So Saskia, if you don’t mind, I’d like to start with you.

Saskia Mehlhorn 18:54
Thank you. I definitely have a personal story. And I’m really grateful that I can share it. It took me two weeks to get prepared for that.

Marlene Gebauer 19:03
We are too.

Saskia Mehlhorn 19:04
So my my youngest son in 2019, died by suicide. And it was something that we did not see coming. And we knew that he had that he didn’t always feel well, but he was pushing it off. And I think part of that was also that stigma because he was a very private person and he didn’t want to share anything and he probably felt that if he says anything that he would be just put in a box. But so this this total this this moment that you never hope is a call that you get and where everything really breaks down it is really as bad as as you can imagine. And, one of the first things that came into my mind and that that we were just addressing as a family was, do we? Are we open about that? So this stigma right away came in where I was just, I was thinking about well, do we even tell people that he died by suicide? Or do we say, well, heart attack? Accident. And, and one of the things that it What two things actually that really stuck with me was so my, my fear, it was very personal. I was then in that moment was really what will people think of me as a mother? Will that have made me a better mother? So every one is just going to say, Well, no wonder because he just failed at raising. And, and I talked to, I talked to my boss, and she just said, Well, really, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says, you know, you were good. But everyone else that that saw you, you, you were loving mothers, so just don’t worry about what other people think. And but then the next thing was that my oldest son, he’s in law enforcement. And he was already on this mental health journey to educate those in law enforcement, because that is a very, it’s a very macho driven community. And they do not talk about mental health. And he just he basically said to me, you know that Cedric always lived authentically. And you can’t make the last thing that people will know about him, something that isn’t him. And that is really, and that is one of the things that I also think that if someone lives authentically, we have to pick them up at the point where we, as a family, as a community, as a society fail and don’t allow them to live authentically any longer. So that they come to this point, that they feel that this is the end of the road for them. And so we publicized it, we didn’t publicize it, we hold a son wrote the obituary. And it was it was beautiful. And it was very clear that that he had that Cedric had died by suicide. And then the the other amazing thing for me happened was then when I went back to work, that that I had the first day back in the office, a lot of the parts that came up to my office, I was on the 51st floor and and they so they all have to come up if they want to see. And they came up and they just they there were so many that gave me a hug and and close the door and said, I’m so glad that you said that. And I went through the same thing. I went through something like that, or if that that issue in the past, and I’m just so glad that you talk talk openly about it. Because the worst thing that we can do in a situation like that, when something this horrible happens is that we we don’t even that we just bury it and pretend that everything was okay, because it wasn’t okay. And that’s why I am I heard those numbers. But I am also hopeful that actually those that were the older partners, and some of them were really the more senior partners, that then they know that it’s important. And they will, if you take them by by their word, if you really talk open to them about it, they will not just listen, they are empathetic. And there is a lot of things that can be done. But it’s just to get them to this step where they just say, well, this is not just the person down the road. That is someone that that works in our firm that has going through something like that. And actually, it’s not so far off from my own experience.

Greg Lambert 24:00
Now, Saskia I know all stories are personal and unique. But I was wondering you’ve, you’ve now had some four years to kind of think about this. Are there any personal insights that you have that you can share with us on? If someone were to have a co worker that’s running into a similar situation? You know, I think a lot of us are scared to say the wrong thing. Is there something that we could do, or something that you can suggest that, you know, don’t be afraid to do you know, X, Y or Z? Any insights on that?

Saskia Mehlhorn 24:47
I think you’d make me to take the cue from them. Because people can be they might not there are some that really don’t want to talk about it. They’re not and that’s that’s okay that they A brief journey. But if you, one of the things that I always find very important is to take concrete action. So instead of just saying, Well, I’m so sorry, and tell me what you need to say, well, I’m going to take you for a cup of coffee, so you can talk or, I’m going to, let’s just take the dog for going out for a walk, you can bring them food, which is something wonderful in this culture, that is not the status in all cultures. I mean, I’m German, and in Germany, you cannot bring food. But I think it is something very, it’s something that is very much appreciated, because in those situations, you really don’t want to think about that, but you still need nourishment. And it’s also you, most people that are grieving, they do want to talk about their loved ones, especially if it is such an approps going, passing, because it’s, and don’t be afraid to ask about that person. Just say, Well, if you what’s the what’s the most wonderful thing that you you miss about that person or just not even asked, let’s say, Well, I always I love to his way to, to give talks. It’s just things like that at something that is very personal that you know, and, but then also don’t come with platitudes like, Oh, I’m so sorry. I know what you’re going through because my my, my great grandmother died was 98. Um, but it’s very different from from having a younger person.

Marlene Gebauer 26:39
One of the things I took away from the story, Saskia, is that just the empathy that you were speaking of in terms of your your co workers that came to you to talk to you? This wasn’t a, you know, an initiative or anything like that this was just, you know, people being human, and acting in a human way.

Saskia Mehlhorn 27:00
Yeah, definitely. And that was the most wonderful thing that can come out of something so horrific, where you just see that the people that you work with for years and years, they really see you as a person and not just as to name on

Bree Buchanan 27:17
on an email. I think a key and all of this as lawyers being able to live out their lives, you know, honestly, authentically, and be able to talk about these things and not be afraid of them.

Greg Lambert 27:30
Yeah. Well, Saskia, thank you for Yeah, thank you. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, it took us two weeks to prepare ourselves for that, too. So Bree, and I think you have a story to share as well.

Bree Buchanan 27:46
Yeah, absolutely. A little bit different than in Saskia. I just want to say thank you so much for your courage to share that story. You have helped people you really have in in that act, and I know it’s a sacrifice. But so my my story really comes is a little bit different. And it’s about being going through an alcohol use disorder and recovery from that. So just really, just to give you the top highlights, lowlights. I had a lot of adverse childhood experience events. We’ll go into that as a young child. But then by the time I got to law school, I was already experiencing depression and anxiety. When I got my grades from the first semester, I ended up with a panic disorder, rampant impostor syndrome, certain that I had mistaken beneath that I was there. I didn’t drink before I got to law school. But once I did, I kind of, you know, piled on what everybody else is doing. to self medicate is basically what we’re doing really uncomfortable feelings of depression and anxiety and fear, etc. I got out of law school, I went to work doing domestic violence work, so represented victims of domestic violence and victims of child abuse, and did that for over a decade. And so you can imagine burnout, compassion, fatigue, which is something that did, we didn’t think about that at the time. And so the at the time, I started out, and I was drinking two glasses of wine a night. And so just to fast forward, and we know that this disease is something that is progressive without interruption, and by the time I was 45, I was drinking two bottles of wine a night, which is unsustainable on every level. It wasn’t too long after that I lost my marriage. Unfortunately, like I’ve seen a lot of lawyers do losing a marriage is not enough to get in recovery. It’s when it affects your career. And when I lost my job, that is when I was willing to get into recovery and I threw myself into it because I had such an incredible level of shame. I would go into the AAA meetings and sit there for months and just with my head in my hands, I couldn’t even look at people. All I could do is look at the floor. I was really fortunate, I got into 12 step I threw myself into meditation and going to psychotherapy, doing everything you’re supposed to do. And about a year later, still unemployed, had the opportunity to go work at the lawyer’s Assistance Program in Texas. So there couldn’t be a better job for somebody who is new to sobriety, to live it and be surrounded in it every day. And so I just had a lot of opportunities that came from that and ultimately be in a leadership and a founding role around the well being movement. And I feel like it’s Yep, all of those adverse experiences. And those difficulties really just led me to this point. And I am so grateful in so many ways for having the opportunity to try and make things a little bit better for other others in the profession.

Marlene Gebauer 30:48
Well, we definitely appreciate that.

Greg Lambert 30:51
Bree, I know you said it took the losing of your job before you realize that, you know, this is something that that you better get get control of because it’s got control of you. Right, or there’s things that you think that law firms or businesses are doing better now to, again, to kind of, instead of cutting someone loose to identify that there’s an issue and step in and at least offer some assistance, was it whether the person takes it or not? Are we doing better at that?

Bree Buchanan 31:27
I think we are doing better, particularly at the bigger firms where you have a professional HR staff and they and there’s an under growing, understanding that this is a disease, and that it is though manageable, long term recovery is very possible. And so it’s also a protected status. Being an alcoholic, an addict. And so there’s all I’ve seen, there’s much more willingness to sit down and give the person a chance and work with them. Say, you know, we want you to go through this treatment program, and then come back to us and we’ll look at integrating you back into the law firm. And that happens now 1520 years ago, I don’t think it did it was either just ignore it. And pray that there’s not some massive malpractice that’s going to be committed by this person, or just go in and cut them loose and let them down.

Greg Lambert 32:25
Nita, I wanted to come back to you and talk about because I again, I think over the last 10 years, I think there’s been a push to be much more proactive on mental health, physical health, things that aren’t just seen, as, you know, improving the efficiency of workers through more work, but rather through better lifestyle, understanding people as they come to you, in finding ways to help kind of the overall wellness of the workers are we we tend to go through these cycles, however, these these swings, to where it was like everyone’s on board with it. And then all of a sudden, you get someone that says, you know, we’re spending way too much time we’re not getting enough return on our investment here are worse, you know, this is a bunch of fluff. And there’s no no place in the workplace, or are we at that point now? Or have we been at that point? Are you seeing kind of a pushback on it?

Nita Cumello 33:33
I think if there is any pushback, it would mostly be related to the notion that, like you said, that well being is kind of a fluffy topic. And again, I think it’s really a matter of what Bree said, reframing and helping people to understand how it’s really about optimization for ourselves as individuals and you know, personally and professionally and also for the organizations themselves or the organizations that we represent. I think that when we think about well being from the standpoint of how it drives employee engagement, and it drives organizational energy, that’s when you start to think of it in a non fluffy way. I think it facilitates creativity and empathy, which is vital for constant innovation and evolution in any industry. So I think that the the pushback that we feel or sense right now is less so around the acknowledgement that it’s an important focus and really more now on what is the actual strategy and investment that we need to make to implement to start managing and improving amongst what feels like a urgent priorities. And so, I often will say like, I just feel so strongly that we can’t let the urgent push the important and we have to keep the well being movement as and think about it in that reframe sense of how foundational it is to performing optimally, which any human being, and any organization should be prioritizing as like the number one thing,

Greg Lambert 35:29
I like to have a can’t have the the urgent crush the important like that.

Marlene Gebauer 35:35
So, what are next steps? You know, we are seeing, you know, the wellness movement take hold and in firms and in the legal industry. So, what what are next steps that that we should be taking?

Nita Cumello 35:48
I mean, I believe that training programs, you know, earlier, we already talked about kind of breaking the stigma and talking about it, yes, 100%. But I also believe that that training program, starting in schools, law schools, all the way through professional development in the firm, has to adapt to equip individuals with not just the skills that they need to like, do the job itself, like the technical skills, but also kind of those human skills. And I think we have to do a much better job of assessing where people are on their individual journeys, and what this actually means for the collective whole of the teams that they’re on and the organizations that they contribute to in the dead. Because, honestly, like what gets measured gets managed, we need to understand from our employees, like, where our organizations measure in areas of like organizational health and stress and fulfillment and psychological safety and mental health and manager support and leadership support. And then I think we need to take that information that we glean and the insights that we glean from what our people are actually seeing, and then equip the leaders in the individuals to role model, the behavior that’s going to enable for real, systematic change.

Bree Buchanan 37:14
I think just really honing in, I think it is around leadership training and changing attitudes there, and making sure that it’s consistent across the board and you know, with depth within the organization. And so, really paying a lot of attention to helping the leaders of the firm understand what the these issues are, to come up with ideas on how they can maybe look at what’s happening internally. Is there any process procedure, etc. That may be hampering people’s willingness to go look for help? What are they doing internally, that can either be helping or hindering people’s well being?

Saskia Mehlhorn 37:59
Yeah, I agree. And, and I think that leadership has to take ownership of the whole topic about mental health, and not just push it off and make it about someone else and say, Well, if you need help, but also, everyone needs to be mindful. And everyone has to make sure that their mental health is in good segue. And that is something that can be communicated, whether you’re in an acute situation where that’s not the case for you, you’re feeling good right now just to acknowledge that everyone has their down moments at time or doesn’t feel so good about themselves. So just not just pushing it off to someone else to say it, but being open about it. And I know that’s hard, especially in a profession where so much depends on being the tough person on the other side. But I think that that’s important, and especially when we think about what it will bring in the end that those if we have people that we work with that are glad to come to work, whether they’re in the best place of their life or not. They’re just it’s a good place for them to be that is that’s going to show up in in the text return.

Greg Lambert 39:16
Well, Saskia Mehlhorn Bree Buchanan and nita Cumello. I want to thank all of you for taking the time to share such an important story and discussion with us today. Thank you very much.

Marlene Gebauer 39:31
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much scale. And I want to thank all of our listeners for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter, LinkedIn, and at M gave our 66 on threads.

Greg Lambert 39:52
And I can be reached on LinkedIn and glamoured on Twitter or glambertpod on threads as Saskia if someone wants to reach out to you, where can you be found online?

Saskia Mehlhorn 40:06
Well, I’m on LinkedIn and then I’m on twitter@sioso.com. I think

Greg Lambert 40:19
we’ll put that link meet up with the link. So

Nita Cumello 40:24
I yeah, you can probably best find me on LinkedIn. And I was just looking up my Twitter handle and it’s at nita Cumello on Twitter.

Greg Lambert 40:32
Oh, nice and easy. Yeah, Bree, how about you?

Bree Buchanan 40:36
And I’m on LinkedIn, Bree Buchanan. Just put that in the search engine and also Bree at ping our krill.com.

Marlene Gebauer 40:46
And don’t forget that we The Geek in Review are also on youtube@youtube.com slash at The Geek in Review. And as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca Thank you, Jerry.

Greg Lambert 40:59
Thanks, Jerry. All right, Marlene, I’ll talk to you later.

Marlene Gebauer 41:02
Okay, thank you bye bye.