Do you know a fellow lawyer who suffers from fear, anxiety, and depression and do not know what to do? It can be frustrating to watch someone you know suffer and not be able to help them.
According to the 2016 Hazelden Betty Ford survey, 61 percent of attorneys report struggling to manage anxiety at some point in their careers. In the same study, partnered with the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, it was reported that 19 percent of lawyers experience anxiety and 23 percent experience chronic stress. It becomes a cycle of constant exhaustion and tension from working long hours and burning out.
Many lawyers may refuse to admit they have a mental health problem or find ways to help ease their anxieties because they are either too busy or are afraid of what their friends and colleagues may think. Unfortunately, ignoring one’s mental health issues can make things worse down the road.
As a result, here are seven tips on how to help a colleague who may be struggling with managing their anxiety.
- Learn as much as you can in managing anxiety: There are many books and information online that will educate you on how to deal with fear and anxiety. Share this information with the person who is struggling. Try to provide different options to your lawyer friend which could increase the chances of them getting treatment. Methods like meditation and exercise have been proven helpful. There's also professional help such a therapy to talk through their anxieties and find out the root cause. In addition, remind the person who is struggling that you are willing to help them out and remind them that they are not alone
- Be understanding and patient with the person struggling with their mental health: Dealing with anxiety can be difficult for the person so do not add more problems than what is already there. If a fellow colleague is struggling, try not to judge the person and do not make assumptions which can make the situation worse. Be open-minded and do not pressure your friend into doing something that they may feel uncomfortable doing.
- Talk to the person instead of talking at them: It is important not to lecture the person who is struggling with anxiety. Talk to the person about their issues without being rude. Most people will listen if you approach them in a proper manner. Try to see things from your colleague’s perspective when you are discussing one’s mental health issues.
- Get help: Seek help from a professional who can help your friend or relative with their struggles. A counselor can give advice and ideas on how to overcome anxiety, fear, and depression. Getting help from a professional is the number one priority in helping your loved one deal with anxiety. Joining a local mental health support group can also be helpful. Talk to your doctor to get more information and share your findings with the person who is struggling.
- Talk to the person on what will happen if they do not get help: Another way to convince the person who is struggling with fear and depression is to tell them what may happen if they don’t get some assistance. Anxiety and depression can make things worse and usually it won’t go away without some kind of treatment. Encourage your friend to take that first step which could make a difference in getting their life back on track.
- Find out the reasons why the person won’t get help: Address the issues on why the person will not get the necessary help. Many people who are struggling are fearful and frustrated. Try to find out the reasons why he or she won’t get the help they need and then try to find ways that will overcome their resistance to seeking assistance. Addressing one’s concerns can go a long way in convincing the person who is struggling to consider other options in dealing with their anxieties and other mental health issues.
- Do not give up: Since a fellow lawyer may be reluctant to get assistance right away does not mean that they won’t get some kind of help down the road. Do not pressure your colleague into doing something they feel uncomfortable with; however, it is important to remind them that seeking treatment for their mental health issues is something they should consider if they want to get rid of their mental health issues.
Stan Popovich is the author of the popular managing fear book, “A Layman’s Guide To Managing Fear”. For more information about Stan’s book and to get some free mental health advice, please visit Stan’s website at www.managingfear.com