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"No one wants to be part of an organization which does not accept LGBT+ people or have difficulties in dealing with mental health issues."; An interview with Christian Thomas Stempfle

Interview with Christian Thomas Stempfle, Litigation Partner at Reed Smith (Munich)

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your role at your organisation.

I am a litigation partner within the firm’s Global Commercial Disputes department. I do loads of liability/insolvency/insurance-driven work and white collar crime related work.

Why do you think it’s important to discuss mental health in the workplace?

Mental health, as well as physical health, is important to cope with the demands of the legal profession. Whereas there is some sort of awareness as regards physical health issues, a lot of people lack knowledge as regards mental health issues because they do not know how to deal with it. This definitely needs to be changed in order to help affected people at an early stage who might lack the necessary insight and understanding to get treatment

Do you think it’s important to talk specifically about LGBT+ mental health?

I would love to say ‘no’, but professionals who are part of the LGBT+ community might be more affected than others as regards mental health issues if they do not find an environment in which they can live without fear of disadvantages… However, I would rather not tend to stigmatize LGBT+ professionals more by bringing mental health issues in connection with LGBT+. Certainly, a workplace like Reed Smith should guarantee that LGBT+ professionals can follow their legal career without having to worry even for a second what LGBT+ might mean in that context. Any behavior that is not in line with such guarantees has to be strictly banned from the firm.

What advice would you give to an LGBT+ professional who is struggling with their mental health?

The same advice I would give any professional: don’t hide but openly discuss what needs to be changed to improve the situation and help to overcome such issues.

What would you like to change in the workplace to make it easier to discuss mental health?

This is a matter of attitude and education which gives every person at Reed Smith the liberty to discuss whatever needs to be discussed including mental health issues. I think that modern ways of equipping offices can help to create such an atmosphere.

What tips would you offer employers on how they can better support LGBT+ people and their mental health?

It is not about supporting LGBT+ people. It is about proper and sincere care for all people working for the employer and being sensible enough for mental health issues.

Does an organization’s approach to mental health change the likelihood of you wanting to work there?

No one wants to be part of an organization which does not accept LGBT+ people or have difficulties in dealing with mental health issues.

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