Author: Sabrina Rosa
Mental health is a prevalent issue within the legal profession and is far more common that the public understand. A 2020 study featuring lawyers in the California Lawyers Association and D.C. Bar called “Stress, Drink, leave: An Examination of Gender-Specific Risk Factors for Mental Health Problems and Attrition Among Licensed Attorneys,” stating that at least half of current attorney’s experience depression and anxiety. These lawyers researched that 30% of symptoms are mild and 20% are more severe.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There has been a longstanding stigma around mental health. Even though it is much more talked about these days, people still hesitate to seek help or speak up about their own struggles due to fear of being judged or getting backlash from others, including loved ones. Mental Health Awareness is symbolized by a green ribbon.
What are different types of mental illness that may affect you?
There are numerous different mental health issues which range in its severity. Some of the most common for lawyers are anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. If you feel that you are struggling with these, reach out to a doctor or therapist who can help you cope with these mental conditions. Ask for help, you are not alone in this!
What is Wellness?
Wellness is practicing healthy habits on daily to gain a better physical and mental health. These can include exercise, nutrition, sleep, mindfulness, and many others. By making healthy choices in your everyday life, stress may be better managed, and your mindset may be more positive. You may make small changes and implement these in your lives until you find one or two that works best for you. For lawyers, the focus tends to be taking care of their clients needs, which means their own needs are not on their priority list. There are many ways to change up the practice to make work-life balance more achievable. Wellness is a mindset.
Why Does it Matter?
It is common knowledge that lawyers are under a high amount of pressure and stress. There have been many studies that have confirmed that lawyers have higher rates of mental health concerns, compared to other careers. If mental health goes ignored, it may affect a lawyer’s quality of life, as well as potentially effect the quality of the service they are providing clients. It is ALWAYS important to make sure the mental health is prioritized.
There are many other professions that share a stressful load and are cause for mental health issues. The most stressful roles in Canada right now, besides lawyers, are: physicians, nurses, firefighters, anesthesiologists, police officers, surgeons, project managers, social workers and many more.
How Can You Get Help?
Lawyers have been facing challenges in the profession but have access to help. There are many different support resources in Ontario who can help you when you are feeling low.
BounceBack is a free behavioural therapy program that offers mental health support for youth and adults 15 and over. They offer skill-building programs that is managed by the Canadian Mental Health Association. It helps with low moods, depression, anxiety, and stress. If this sounds like something, you would be interested in call them at 1-866-345-0224.
Breaking Free Online is a free online therapy tool that is designed to help people in Ontario 16 and older. They help reduce the use of substances, such as alcohol or drugs. This is a recovery support program for addiction. If you want to speak to a member about this, call 833-325-1338.
Think Mental Health is an effort from the Ontario health and safety systems to provide workplaces with the correct resources to understand mental health better, as well as better understand mental health. Find out more information about the different programs they offer.
These are just a few resources in Ontario. If you search up mental health support, you can find many more that will suit the best for you and your health.
If you are a lawyer struggling, reach out to someone to talk about what is on your mind. You are not alone. Talk Suicide Canada has a helpline number 1-833-456-4566. This support line is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. If you want to connect with a professional one on one, you can call 1-866-585-0445.
According to the law society, CAMH is a great resource for lawyers to reach out too. They have 24-hour crisis lines that specialize in specific crisis. Call 416-535-8501 and press 2 to speak to someone from CAMH. The Law Society of Ontario as well has a Well-Being Resource Centre for legal professionals in the law world or for those entering it. They bring together everyone in the law community who deal with anxiety, stress, or depression, together. Visit https://lso.ca/lawyers/well-being-resource-centre for more information about the different resources for lawyers they have. The Law Society also has Member Assistance Program for lawyers, students, and judges. It is a free program that allows access to counselling for mental health issues in the legal workplace.