Safeguarding employee mental health in the covid era
Krista Larson, Morgan Lewis & Bockius
Elizabeth Melville, Old Square Chambers
Chris Parsons, Herbert Smith Freehills
Date and time
16:00 BST/17:00 CEST/11:00 EDT
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The unprecedented effects of the covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly fuelled the global mental health crisis among workers. Bereavement, social isolation, fears of contracting the virus, worries over job security, as well as harassment and discrimination, and the blurring of work and home life have all led to rising reports of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, an exacerbation of pre-existing psychiatric conditions, and even suicidal behaviour in employees.

With emerging evidence that mental health problems linked to the pandemic will likely be significant and felt for years to come, there has never been a more important time and need for employers to consider how they can best safeguard the health and safety of their workforces around the world.

This UK mental health awareness week (10-16 May 2021), IEL is partnering with an expert group of legal and wellbeing practitioners to offer employers, HR professionals, in-house counsel, and private practice lawyers some best practice examples of:

  • The types of legal claims brought by employees with mental ill-health;
  • The effect of the pandemic on legal professionals;
  • How to champion mental health discussions to create healthy working environments;
  • How to design and implement a wellbeing programme within your organisation; and
  • How to respond when employees raise the alarm over poor wellbeing or mental health.


Krista Larson

Krista LarsonDirector of Employee Wellbeing, Morgan Lewis & Bockius (Boston, USA)

Krista serves as Morgan Lewis’ director of employee wellbeing. In this global position, she works to design and implement a custom wellbeing curriculum as part of the firm’s employee engagement efforts. Krista earned her Master’s in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied the science of wellbeing with the founder of the field, Dr Martin Seligman. It was through this experience that she became passionate about the use of positive psychology to enable organisations and their people to better thrive. Earlier in her career, Krista worked in management consulting where she supported clients across industries on a variety of leadership and talent solutions.

Elizabeth Melville

Elizabeth Melville, Employment Law Barrister, Old Square Chambers (London, UK) 

Called to the Bar in 1994, Elizabeth has over 20 years’ experience as an employment lawyer and also specialises in high-level investigatory and internal disciplinary work. Elizabeth complements her core legal practice with expertise in mental health and wellbeing, in which she takes a keen interest and lectures regularly. She has studied analytical psychology with a London based training organisation, including undertaking a clinical placement within an NHS psychiatric clinic, and has worked one to one with clients therapeutically. Elizabeth is a qualified mediator and is able to conduct workplace mediations, coaching and internal training. She also regularly chairs appeal and grievance hearings within organisations.

Chris Parsons

Chris Parsons, Chair, India Practice and Mental Health Champion, Herbert Smith Freehills (London, UK)

Chris has been with Herbert Smith Freehills for 36 years and chairman of the India Practice for the last 16 years. He thinks of India as his second home. Chris’ other passion is mental health and wellbeing. Having suffered from serious mental health issues himself, he is very aware of the stigma that surrounds the topic. His aim is to reduce this stigma so that mental ill-health is treated exactly the same as physical ill-health. He does this by telling his own personal story within HSF, to its clients and to other organisations. Towards the end of 2018 (and sponsored by HSF) Chris completed an intensive programme in psychotherapy at Regent's University in London. Chris is also a trustee of MQ Mental Health, the leading mental health research charity in the UK. Its vision is to build a world where mental illness is understood, effectively treated, and ultimately prevented.