b'BACK TO NAVIGATIONChallenges and OpportunitiesIt is important to remember that the legal profession is made up of human beings, each with a personal context that can make them more or less resilient at different times and which effects how they are impacted by work stresses. While this may seem obvious, a personal approach is not common when creating expectations or displaying tolerance for human vulnerability in many professional settings.COVID has elevated the national conversation about mental health and the prevalence of stress and isolation related anxiety and depression. These discussions provide an opportunity to raise the awareness of, and reduce the stigma related to mental health in both the general population and the workforce.Law firms should consider revising and repledging their commitment to the mental health of their teams and integrate it as a key success factor for their business. There are significant downsides for firms who do not apply the same discipline to their investment in mental wellbeing as they do with their core strategic planning processes. These include:wasting resources on ineffective wellbeing programscomplacency from responsible managers who dont demonstrate that issues are being effectively managedstaff members becoming cynical sensing that the firms concern is superficial, token or maybe even falsepoor mental health outcomes and organisational performance opportunity cost from missing higher impact changes.The required changes in organisational culture need to be supported from the top through accountability, advocacy and modelling changed behaviours. Effective leadership in this area requires a significant commitment to research and listening, in order to develop a well-grounded approach that staff will find credible. Leaders cannot sustain a position of credibility without investing in a deeper understanding of the true nature of the problem and its causes, and confronting the challenges required to improve the problem. Systematic research and information gathering about the firms mental health is needed, particularly when firms face to face interactions are more fragmented.We must invest in a better understanding of the resilience of the people by monitoring and reporting the types and level of hazards. Over time, the improvement in understanding develops the firms capacity to identify changes in risk areas and allows them to prioritise, evaluate program impacts and to provide early warning of emerging issues or trends. There is no proven one-size approach to understanding and effectively responding to the mental health pressures caused by COVID. Improving wellbeing in this environment needs innovative processes, high levels of commitment, a continued dialogue about mental health issues generally and a willingness to take measured risks to think and do things differently. Winning work or providing good service to law firms clients should not require a compromise of the firms explicit values and so in some cases it is necessary to manage client expectationsMany law firms values and programs that support mental health and wellbeing align with those of their clients. Law firms need to be adept at discussing ways to better manage the stresses of client briefs by setting reasonable expectations. The benefits are that staff will be supported while the client receives better quality work and a greater understanding and respect for the firms authentic values.Appreciating this shared vision and being subsequently able to meet client needs in conjunction with bolstered support mechanisms for staff, are critical to high quality service.41'