The Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation is an independent volunteer, charitable organisation.
The Foundation’s objective is to decrease work related psychological ill-health in the legal community and to promote workplace psychological health and safety.
Since the Foundation’s inception in August 2008, the organization has strived to create greater awareness of depression and anxiety amongst the legal fraternity.
The Foundation has established itself as a reference point and facilitator of information in the area of depression and anxiety in the legal profession.
The Foundation aims to raise awareness, improve education and build effective models of support which focus on mental health wellbeing within the legal education system and the legal profession.
Our purpose is to be an independent “hub” to support all initiatives within the legal profession that aim to decrease the distress, disability and causes of depression and anxiety in the legal profession.
What we do
In order to meet the Foundation’s objective of decreasing work related psychological ill-health in the legal community and to promote workplace psychological health and safety. the Foundation aims to:
- Disseminate information on activities, research and initiatives which will 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 a level which creates best practice
- Identify areas of duplicated effort (research, curriculum design, toolkits and cultural change initiatives) to ensure allocation of resources and learnings are leveraged
- To promote innovative thought and strategic direction in the profession
- Be an incubator for new ideas and initiatives that support better mental health outcomes
The Inaugural Tristan Jepson Memorial Lecture was held in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court Building in September 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.
Why we do it
Mental health issues are a growing concern amongst the legal profession. Too often, for various reasons, practitioners simply struggle with stress associated with their professional and personal lives and do not seek professional assistance. In a field where the ability to consistently perform competently at a very high level is expected, most are, understandably, reluctant to admit to any vulnerabilities. This trend is not only confined to long-standing practitioners, but also affects law students completing their studies, as well as recent graduates entering the profession for the first time. Indeed, it has been demonstrated that those in the early stages of their legal careers in practice are twice as likely to be depressed as their senior counterparts.
Ongoing evaluation and research of mental health and education will promote mental wellness and a balanced approach to managing the pressures of practice in the legal profession.
The Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation was created in memory of George and Marie’s son, Tristan, a former University of NSW law student, young lawyer and comedian. Tristan suffered from severe clinical depression and took his own life, just four weeks after his 26th birthday, on the 28th October, 2004.
The Foundation exists in memory of Tristan’s love of life, his passion for the law and social justice, his wonderful sense of humour and his love for, and loyalty to, family and friends.
Tristan’s death came as an incredible shock to his family and friends. Few knew of his ongoing battle with depression. At a gathering of some of his friends after the funeral, a recurrent theme emerged. Some of the young women’s boyfriends who also suffered from depression had sworn them to secrecy and would not seek help. George and Marie then decided to speak out about Tristan’s death and his battle with depression, against the norm of pretending that we ought not mention his illness or that he had taken his own life.
The Foundation has gone from strength to strength capturing the support of the entire legal community – law students, barristers, solicitors, academics, legal support staff. Other sectors, such as members of the medical fraternity and the research community have also offered support and information to the Foundation.