I’ve been quite happy with an important recent change in the legal profession— we’re finally talking seriously about mental health. More specifically, we’re taking about getting help for our mental health issues.
Of course, while the powers-that-be have been advocating that discussion for a (short) while, the lawyers on the ground have been more reluctant to engage. The reason is clear— stigma and repercussions. Lawyers don’t want their colleagues or clients to know that they are struggling because they’re afraid it will affect how they appear to those people. Lawyers obviously also don’t want to suffer any setback to their career. As a result, there’s been a de facto disincentive for lawyers to come forward and get help. It appears, however, that that’s changing.
The Wall Street Journal reports that firms are “offering on-site psychologists, training staff to spot problems and incorporating mental-health support alongside other wellness initiatives.” That’s the type of action we need. I’ve long said in my CLE programs that we need to create an environment where people feel comfortable about getting help. Hopefully the firms’ actions set forth in that article are the front end of a growing trend.