Today’s blog article has kindly been provided by Jennifer Unsworth, Senior Associate at Withers & Rogers LLP, and is a report on the recent mental health event run by her firm.  Withers & Rogers is one of our Charter signatories.

Jennifer writes: “As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Withers & Rogers hosted an IP Inclusive breakfast in their Bristol office.  The focus of the workshop was “Mental Health – the last taboo”.

The event was well-attended by the South West IP Community, including representatives from a number of law firms and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO), as well as Jonathan’s Voice, a charity that was set up in memory of Jonathan McCartney, a patent attorney who tragically took his own life in 2017.

The UK IPO shared examples of initiatives that they have used to improve wellbeing in the workplace, including manager training courses, peer-to-peer support groups and the establishment of a team of Mental Health Champions.

One initiative that generated significant interest at the workshop was the UK IPO’s incorporation of mental health and wellbeing training into the training of patent examiners.  It was clear that some of the lessons learned by the UK IPO, for example relating to reward and recognition objectives, colleague connections and feedback training, could easily be applied to the training of IP professionals.
The open discussion that followed the UK IPO’s presentations identified four themes on which the IP community may focus its attention in order to improve mental wellbeing or health:

  • Support – for example peer-to-peer groups and mental health first aiders
  • Tools – including training to develop communication and feedback skills
  • Awareness – such as senior members of the profession sharing their experiences of mental ill health
  • Keeping it Going – by devising and implementing wellbeing programmes with regular training for staff at all levels.

There was much enthusiasm within the room for ensuring that Mental Health and Wellbeing is a priority for the profession and we look forward to seeing how firms work together develop and implement their strategies.”

Thank you Jennifer for writing this article. If you would like to write a blog article for IP Inclusive, on anything diversity related, please email Emily Teesdale of Abel & Imray. Guest bloggers are always very welcome!  

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