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In 2016 the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation conducted a survey that brought the widespread concerns of mental health and substance abuse for law professionals to the forefront of conversations in the legal community. “The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys” gathered and analyzed data from more than 12,800 lawyers. The results were alarming with substantial rates of behavioral health problems recorded:
- Levels of depression, anxiety and stress among attorneys were significant, with 28%, 19% and 23% experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, respectively.
- 61.6% of reported mental health conditions were anxiety, 45.7% were depression, 16.1% were social anxiety, 12.5% were attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, 8% were panic disorder and 2.4% were bipolar disorder.
- 11.5% of participants admitted to having suicidal thoughts and 0.7% reported at least one prior suicide attempt.
The conclusion of this study found that mental health issues are significantly higher problems for attorneys than for other populations. The data from this program has informed lawyer assistance programs and public awareness campaigns within the legal field.
One such program recently announced by McGlinchey Stafford PLLC is their new healthy living and employee well-being initiative, Wellness Works. It will support the welfare of all McGlinchey team members through a variety of wellness programs that promote health through connectivity, education and camaraderie.
“Wellness Works was really born out of the work we were doing prior to and at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Christine Lipsey, firm general counsel and chair of the Wellness Works committee. “Wellness Works is our long-term, comprehensive plan to make sure that we can sustain a healthy workplace for our McGlinchey family.”
At the onset of the pandemic, leaders at McGlinchey worked together to transition the firm’s offices to remote work while prioritizing employee connection enhanced by the company’s philosophy of providing innovative solutions.
“We’ve all seen how vital this initiative is over the past year as we all cope with the effects of the pandemic and remote work,” said Eliska Plunkett, the firm’s director of human resources and chief diversity officer. “Through this initiative, we recommit to supporting our team members’ mental, physical and emotional health and well-being. It is especially important that we provide resources and opportunities for connection while we are still physically apart.”
The firm’s goal is to provide employees with a comprehensive toolbox to foster mental, emotional, physical, and financial well-being by offering resources for many issues commonly faced by attorneys and legal professional staff.
“Our very first initiative was an on-demand, 60-minute course called ‘Strategically Well: How the Pandemic is Impacting the Mental Health and Emotional States of Lawyers and Law Firms,’ by attorney Patrick Krill,” said Plunkett. “Our Strategically Well program was in direct response to the national mental health crisis. Christine, as general counsel, was particularly focused on this and concerned about the worsening impact that the pandemic was having.”
The initiative also encourages employees to discuss their overall well-being and any challenges they may face when returning to office. While not every position is well-suited for remote work, the structure of the Wellness Works program allows many employees to work with their supervisors to customize a remote work plan that empowers them to be successful in their positions and lessen anxiety and stress at home.
“To start a wellness program at any firm, it needs structure,” advised Plunkett. “Ask yourself what makes you want to work at your firm? What drives employee satisfaction? From there, the committee should identify target areas and how to provide resources to employees for each. We recommend going a mile-wide and 6-feet-deep on each topic, to provide the most inclusive resources available.
We are committed to our employees’ well-being and have made it a cornerstone of our workplace culture and our #McGlincheyForward Initiative. We welcome any discussion with colleagues or peers to help do that across the legal industry.”
McGlinchey Stafford PLLC has been ranked in the 2021 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" list nationally in three practice areas and regionally in 32 practice areas. Additionally, 44 McGlinchey lawyers were included in the 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America© and 12 lawyers were included in the 2021 Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch.