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Ways The Legal Industry Can Promote Mental Health Awareness

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Ways The Legal Industry Can Promote Mental Health Awareness

September 2018 is suicide awareness month. Despite all the social media campaigns, all the talk, and television commercials there is a high rate of mental illness and suicide in the legal industry. The stigma against openly discussing personal mental health issues in law firms is still running strong so it is unknown if the conversation has even started at the firm level. How can firms begin to promote mental health awareness?

If lawyers, recruiters, and human resources want to overcome the stigma, they must focus on breaking down the biggest barriers.

Talk the Talk

  • The barrier to break down 1: Crazy talk. No one wants to be judged as weak or called “crazy.” Everyone in the legal community is responsible for discouraging the judgment of colleagues suffering from mental illness. Suffering from a mental health issue does not make someone weak or wrong. People suffering from mental health issues need to be treated with the same level Mental Health Awarenessof compassion and respect extended to all.
  • The barrier to break down 2: Cycle of Isolation. So many people suffering from mental illness become isolated because their friends, acquaintances, coworkers and even family don’t know how to connect with them. At least, that’s what they say. Ignoring the situation does not make it go away; it only exacerbates the situation. Mental illness can make people withdraw socially perpetuating the cycle of isolation and suffering alone. To combat this, law firms should have third-party counseling available for employees who need to talk to someone without judgment. This can relieve a person’s isolation while also protecting their privacy.
  • The barrier to break down 3: Perceived violence Many, including [super] intelligent lawyers, perceive mental illness as a scary condition that causes people to be violent. They are not all violent. Very few people suffering from mental health issues become violent towards others. So what are they talking about? Perception. If there is any show of violence, it’s usually in the form of self-harm via substance abuse or suicide.

In order to lower attorney suicide rates, the legal industry will need to make a concerted effort to remove the stigma attached to mental illness. It is important that legal professionals work to educate the community so the fears and prejudices can be dispelled. Subscribe to the Leopard Blog for discussions about mental wellness, diversity, law firm insights, and other relevant topics.

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