1 January 2015

Minds Count Foundation

The Minds Count Foundation is an independent, charitable organisation with an objective to decreased work-related psychological ill-health in the legal community and to promote workplace psychological health and safety.

Since its beginnings in August 2008, the Foundation has been at the forefront of building greater awareness of depression and anxiety across all areas of the legal fraternity.

Founded by Marie and George Jepson, the Foundation was originally named the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation in honour of their late son, a young law graduate and writer who, in 2004, took his own life after struggling with clinical depression.

In 2018, following a leadership change, the Foundation was renamed to Minds Count Foundation:

Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation has announced that it has changed its name to Minds Count. The name change signals a new chapter for the Foundation, as it seeks to forge a new path forward to drive change in the legal profession while continuing to honour the impact and contribution of its founders, Marie and George Jepson, and the memory of Tristan Jepson.

The Foundation has established itself as a reference point and facilitator of information and research in the area of depression and anxiety in the legal profession. As the facilitator of information in the area of mental health, the Foundation has released the Workplace Wellbeing: Best Practice Guidelines, a voluntary framework for legal organisations to fulfil thirteen workplace factors and promote a psychologically healthy legal workplace.

The Guidelines

  1. Organisational culture: A work environment characterised by trust, honesty and fairness.
  2. Psychological and social support: A work environment where coworkers and supervisors are supportive of employees’ psychological and mental health concerns and respond appropriately as needed.
  3. Clear leadership and expectations: A work environment where there is effective leadership and support that helps employees know what they need to do, how their work contributes to the organisation, and whether there are impending changes.
  4. Civility and respect: A work environment where employees are respectful and considerate in their interactions with one another, as well as with customers, clients and the public.
  5. Psychological competencies and requirements: A work environment where there is a good fit between employees’ interpersonal and emotional competencies and the requirements of the position they hold.
  6. Growth and development: A work environment where employees receive encouragement and support in the development of their interpersonal, emotional and job skills.
  7. Recognition and reward: A work environment where there is appropriate acknowledgement and appreciation of employees’ efforts in a fair and timely manner.
  8. Good involvement and influence by staff: A work environment where employees are included in discussions about how their work is done and how important decisions are made.
  9. Workload management: A work environment where tasks and responsibilities can be accomplished within the time available.
  10. Engagement: A work environment where employees feel connected to their work and are motivated to do their job well.

What does Minds Count do?

  • Disseminate information on activities, research and initiatives which will help decrease the incidence of depression and anxiety
  • Foster collegiality across the legal fraternity, medical, insurance and other parties engaged in the subject matter
  • Communicate successful initiatives to support best practice
  • Identify areas of duplicated effort (research, curriculum design, toolkits and cultural change initiatives) to ensure allocation of resources and learnings are leveraged
  • Promote innovative thought and strategic direction in the profession
  • Be an incubator for new ideas and initiatives that support better mental health outcomes
  • Present the Annual Minds Count Foundation Lecture since 2006. The annual lectures were created to provide a forum for the legal community to come together and discuss the issues we face as a profession regarding depression and anxiety. These lectures are aimed at creating education and awareness while also finding strategies to help improve the lives of those working in or associated with the profession

Involvement

Bennett & Philp was introduced to the Minds Count Foundation through Meritas, the global, legal network of which we are a member firm. Mary Digiglio, Managing Partner of, fellow regional member firm, Swaab Attorneys, in her capacity as a director of Minds Count, has introduced the Foundation to her regional Meritas colleagues.

Meritas has a goal to implement the Foundation across its global network which includes having each ANZ member firm become signatories to the thirteen guidelines.

In early 2019, Bennett & Philp staff members completed an anonymous survey about wellness in the workplace. Our responses, along with those from other Australian law firms, were collected and analysed with the results forming the Meritas Australia and New Zealand Wellness Survey 2019. The survey was designed by Meritas with the assistance of Prodonovich Advisory and The Minds Count Foundation.

Our involvement in Meritas, as well as The Minds Count Foundation, has helped to increase the level of discussion regarding mental health and wellbeing around the Bennett & Philp offices. Despite many facets of the Best Practice Guidelines already existing within the firm’s organisational culture, the push towards the implementation of all thirteen guidelines has certainly meant a greater emphasis on the value of mental health in our work.

 


Individual liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (personal injury work exempted).

Workplace Wellbeing: Best Practice Guidelines for the Legal Profession

Promoting psychologically healthy legal workplaces.

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