Despite what many people may think, many lawyers secretly struggle with various mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, and addiction. The fact of the matter is that many lawyers face various mental health issues on a regular basis and do not know what to do.
To make things even worse, some lawyers are afraid to ask for help because it could damage their reputation and create a mental health stigma among their peers and clients.
Lawyers are seen as having a tough and strong persona in regards to their legal profession. Many people look as lawyers as having it all together because they make a lot of money and are well known in the local media.
When a lawyer struggles with their mental health, many of them are inclined to ignore their struggles in order to maintain their appearance with their clients and their peers. This can result in even more anxiety and stress for the lawyer. Negative thoughts and sudden episodes of panic such as OCD and anxiety disorders can increase as one’s mental health issues and are ignored by the lawyers themselves.
So how can a lawyer get out of this destructive cycle?
The first thing a person needs to do is to know how to approach someone who is struggling with their mental health without causing any friction with the person who is having a hard time.
Here are six ways on how to help a fellow lawyer who is struggling with their mental health.
- Learn as much as you can in managing anxiety and depression: There are many books and information that will educate you on how to deal with fear and anxiety. Share this information with the person who is struggling with their mental health issues.
- Be understanding and patient with the person struggling with their fears: Dealing with depression and anxiety can be difficult for the person so do not add more problems than what is already there. Do not get into arguments with the person who is having a difficult time with their anxieties.
- Talk to the person instead of talking at them: It is important not to lecture the person who is struggling with anxiety and depression. Talk to the person about their issues without being rude. Most people will listen if you approach them in a proper manner.
- Get Help: Seek help from a professional who can help your friend or relative with their mental health struggles. A counselor can give you advice and ideas on how to overcome anxiety, fear, and depression. Getting help from a professional is the number one priority in helping someone deal with fear and anxiety. Joining a local mental health support group can also be helpful. Talk to your doctor to get more information about potential groups in your area.
- 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 by itself without some kind of treatment.
- 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.
In addition to getting treatment, there are also multiple ways for lawyers to manage their stresses, anxieties, and other mental health issues without these issues interfering with their career and reputation.
Here are seven suggestions on managing everyday stresses of being a lawyer
- Accept That You Have A Problem: The first step any lawyer needs to do is to accept they have a mental health problem. Making excuses or ignoring your mental health issues is a mistake that will not only ruin your career but can ruin your entire life. Make the smart choice and admit that you need help.
- Use The Services Of A Professional: Talk to a mental health professional who can help you manage your depression and mental health issues. A mental health counselor will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. Most importantly, listen to what the professionals have to say and follow their advice so you can get your life back on track.
- You Are Not Alone, Join A Support Group: There are a countless number of mental health support groups all over the country. Many business professionals (just like you) go to these groups to get help. Go to a support group in your area and meet people who are also struggling with the same issues you are currently dealing with. By going to these groups, you will realize that you are not alone and that there are people who can relate to your situation and are willing to help you out.
- Communicate Your Situation To Your Peers: You have a choice on who you want to talk to about your mental health issues. Your best bet is to keep things confidential while you focus on getting your life back on track. In terms of your job, explain your situation to your supervisors. Be willing to answer their questions so they understand where you are coming from.
- Do Not Try To Get Everyone’s Approval: Most employers will be understanding with your situation; however, there may be some people who will cause some friction. The fact of the matter is that you can’t please everybody in life regardless of how much you try. The key is to do what is best for you and for your family.
- It Is About Your Life: Many lawyers have a lot of time and hard work invested in their current company. As a result, many lawyers will sacrifice their mental health issues for the sake of protecting their investments and their reputation with their employers and peers. Your mental health issues will not go away by themselves. Your life is more important than your career. Jobs come and go, but your physical and mental health is a constant. Make smart choices and do what is best for you in the long run.
- Learn The Mistakes From Others: If you still feel that your career is more important than your mental health, then follow the lessons from other lawyers who neglected their health. There are a countless number of people who ignored their mental health issues for various reasons and either committed suicide, or they ended up losing everything. Do not make the same mistake.
If you are a lawyer and you are unsure of how to deal with your mental health issues and your career, talk to a professional mental health counselor or your primary care physician for advice. These experts will be able to help you make the right decisions and steer you in the right direction.
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
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, encourage them to talk to someone. There is help available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a national helpline (1-800-662-HELP (4357)). SAMHSA's National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) provides free, 24/7 access to trained crisis workers who will talk about problems and direct people to further mental health services in their area.