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Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Legal Industry with Belinda Furse from Be Well, Be You

Q&A Lawyer Feature Article written by Mevni de Silva

Belinda’s passion for health and wellbeing blossomed at an early age.

Growing up in North-west Victoria, Belinda played many different sports whilst also excelling academically.

Belinda’s top subjects at school were sport and legal studies.

After obtaining a Bachelor of Law and Arts (with Honours) at Deakin University, Belinda began her journey as a graduate lawyer, working for a large government organisation.

Belinda had been competing in tennis at a high level since a young age.

She had an exciting opportunity to travel the world, play competitive beach tennis and represent Australia.

When Belinda returned to Melbourne, she was offered a role at a leading Melbourne law firm where she worked for almost 10 years.

Working in the legal industry for over a decade in Australia and the UK, exposed Belinda to the silent battles that busy lawyers and other professionals face.

“I witnessed many leaders, colleagues and friends struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, burnout and other chronic illnesses. After watching people close to me suffer, I wanted to start to create change in the legal industry and pivot my career into wellness”, Belinda explained.

Belinda noted some key issues she has seen with lawyers in recent times – particularly feelings of disconnection, stress and challenges of not having direct access to superiors for feedback.

Belinda commented that “junior lawyers have spent most of their careers working from home – resulting in feelings of social isolation and disconnection”.

Belinda also spoke about perfectionism in the law.

She stated a high achiever mentality, striving for flawlessness and critical self-evaluations are common personality traits for those who work in the law.

Belinda explained that “perfectionism becomes an issue when managing all of those different elements”.  Whilst working as a senior lawyer and raising two young children, Belinda studied to become a fitness professional and nutrition health coach.

She founded ‘Be Well, Be You’ in 2020.

On asking her how ‘Be Well, Be You’ began, Belinda explained that it was crafted with a clear intention to inspire busy lawyers and professionals to make lifestyle changes for increased energy, happiness and motivation.

Belinda offers 1:1 executive coaching, group coaching and corporate wellbeing workshops.

Belinda explained that in recent times, there has been a real rise in the provision of group wellbeing coaching (designed for small support groups of people who share similar experiences or challenges).

These sessions include positive mindset exercises, guided meditations and wellbeing discussions.

“I provide accountability along the way to really make sure the group achieve their health and wellbeing goals,” says Belinda.

Belinda develops a personal wellbeing strategy for each lawyer and has regular check-ins to ensure everyone reaches their milestones.

The coaching takes a holistic approach and looks at all the different areas that support the health and wellbeing of a person- focusing on the areas that make us human: nutrition, physical activity, social connection, career and creativity.

Be Well, Be You was launched during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

One of the biggest challenges in conducting wellbeing sessions virtually was meeting everyone’s different needs for interaction and connection.

The best way Belinda managed to combat these issues was through mindfulness.

“Living a more mindful life is something I’m really passionate about, and something that has become a core part of the wellbeing programs” said Belinda.

With each session, Belinda helps lawyers kick start their own mindfulness practice, and in doing so combats some of the dangerous stigma within the legal community with regards to mental health and wellbeing.

Looking towards the future, Belinda observed the importance of such programs.

In the post-Covid world, she believes that mental health needs to be a top priority for companies and wellbeing programs are key in the prevention of mental ill-health.

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This Q&A Lawyer Feature post does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area.

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