We previously talked about how the pressures and stresses of the profession can affect our mental health and well-being. What can be done, as a profession, and individually, to combat stress, and make attorney well-being a priority?
For one, stakeholders and employers need to acknowledge and accept that stress is abundant in our practice. This first step is beneficial to start addressing well-being. There should be a general understanding that there is a difference between normal stress and stress that can become unhealthy. Make it okay to talk about, without fear. One of the reasons we sometimes fail to get help or fail to put our well-being first is fear. We are scared about what our colleagues will think, what our clients may think, or how it will affect our reputation or ability to practice. We need to normalize the conversation about well-being. It follows that mental health and well-being resources need to be made abundantly available in our firms and in our field. The Illinois Lawyers Assistance Program is an example of a great resource. It is a not-for-profit organization that helps Illinois lawyers, judges, law students, and their families concerned about alcohol abuse, drug dependency, or stress related issues like anxiety, burnout, and depression. Services include individual and group therapy, assessments, education, peer support, and intervention. It is 100% confidential. LAP’s exist in some form in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. We need more of this. LAP’s alone cannot support the needs of the profession. Many employers and firms have developed well-being programs at work, but there can always be more. Having these types of programs and resources in abundance is crucial for helping develop healthy coping skills. This benefits our practice, our clients, and our well-being.