Kimberly Gold, a partner in the firm’s New York office, is the Mental Health Task Force’s co-founder and inaugural chair.
“The mission of this task force is to ensure that our lawyers and professional staff have access to help whenever they or their family members experience or are at risk of experiencing mental health or substance use issues. We will also challenge the well-documented stigma surrounding these issues and cultivate a workplace culture that promotes psychological wellness and positive help-seeking behaviors,” Gold said. “We are collaborating with other key members of Reed Smith’s Diversity & Inclusion team to develop a comprehensive strategy for assessing and addressing these outcomes across our global platform.”
According to Gold, the task force emerged from discussions within LEADRS about how to further support members of Reed Smith’s workforce facing mental health challenges. From the beginning, the initiative was encouraged by the firm’s senior management, lawyers, and professional staff members.
Reed Smith is among the first law firms based in the United States to create a comprehensive, in-house mental health initiative. The goals of its Mental Health Task Force are aligned with the 2017 recommendations of the American Bar Association’s National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, which seek to reduce substance use and respond more effectively to mental health issues across the legal profession. Casey Ryan, Reed Smith’s Global Head of Legal Personnel, is a member of the ABA Task Force.
“Reed Smith’s Mental Health Task Force is moving swiftly to incorporate the best practices in workplace mental health into our offices around the world,” Ryan said. “All our personnel will have access to a wide range of resources based on what recent research shows is most effective in preventing mental health and substance use issues as well as in treating those issues if they do arise. I’m very proud of this timely and comprehensive firmwide response.”
Many of the recommendations included in the ABA Task Force’s ground-breaking publication – The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change – are at the top of the Reed Smith Mental Health Task Force’s agenda.
The firm’s Mental Health Task Force has already scheduled several events, including a Lawyers Assistance Program Panel Webinar for its offices in the United States on January 29. It also plans to conduct Mental Health First Aid Training, already underway in its London offices, in the United States early this year. This training promotes the development of skills to reach out and provide assistance to individuals developing a mental health or substance use issue or experiencing a mental health crisis. The course is part of the firm’s overarching Wellness Works program launched in 2018.
The Mental Health Task Force is open all Reed Smith employees. Five initial advisory teams have been established to focus on:
- Stigma & Culture – will address stigma and work on cultivating a culture of psychological wellness and help-seeking behaviors through actives such as communication campaigns, speaker series, panel discussions and other programming.
- Policies & Practices – will access the current policies and practices with regard to mental health and substance use.
- Education & Resources – will develop educational programming and resources, as well as suggesting enhancements to current offerings.
- Mental Health & Substance Use – will access services offered by the firm for mental health and substance use issues and will also provide support for RS personnel who have family members struggling with these issues.
- Outreach – will find synergies between D&I Business Inclusion Groups, such as RSVets, PRISM, WINRS, where the groups can collaborate on events and programs and will also find ways to collaborate with clients and external organizations.
The Reed Smith Mental Health Task Force is also developing programming as part of the firm’s Wellness Works’ “Mental Health Wellness Month” campaign set for March and will conduct a firmwide survey to identify additional members for its advisory teams.
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