Mental health issues for law students and attorneys are nothing new. However, the increasing movement to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health issues has led to more open discussions about this topic. For examples of how these issues are being addressed within the legal profession, take a look at the following resources:
In addition to the resources provided here, be sure to reach out to the law school about what we can do to improve your well-being and mental health. As students at Mercer, you have access to free Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). The CAPS office is located on the main campus. More information is available on the Mercer website here.
It is important to end the negative stigma surrounding mental health in the legal profession. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. If you need help asking for help, check out the following books:
Members of the Georgia Bar Association also have access to the Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP), a confidential third-party counseling service offered by the GA Bar. Attorneys can contact the LAP Hotline at 1-800-327-9631 to speak with trained counselors. Additionally, GA Bar members are eligible for six (6) free counseling sessions per calendar year. More information and resources can be found here.
One important resource for mental health issues is the National Institute of Mental Health website. This website has information about various crisis hotlines, as well as information on health providers and treatment plans. All of this information and more can be accessed at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml.
Additionally, the American Bar Association (ABA) provides a variety of resources for lawyers and law students facing mental health issues. Not only does the ABA provide a directory to Lawyer Assistance Programs, but there are also many articles and podcasts with information addressing this topic. Those resources can be found on the ABA website.
Lawyers are required to complete Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits each year to remain an active member in good standing of their state's bar. Although these CLE courses generally relate to an attorney's particular practice area, there are ethics and professionalism credit hours required. There are often CLE courses about mental health and managing stress. For an example of this type of CLE course, see the American Law Institute's CLE course, titled "Overcoming Stress and Mental Health Issues in the Legal Profession," here.
The Florida Bar Special Committee on Mental Health & Wellness for Florida Lawyers, All Rise: A Practical Guide to Lawyer Hope Health and Wellness, https://www.legalfuel.com/all-rise-a-practical-guide-to-lawyer-hope-health-and-wellness/ (May 9, 2018). This is a Florida CLE presentation about attorney mental health issues.
There are various ways that employers can help reduce the stress felt by lawyers and interns. These methods include, but are not limited to:
For additional information, see Matthew S. Mulqueen, ABA Working Group Tackles Mental Health and Substance Use Crisis, 44 LITIG. News 14 (2018) (available on HeinOnline).
Other practices that address workplace stress generally (as opposed to lawyer-specific stress) are discussed by Dana Wilkie in her online article, What Managers Can Do to Ease Workplace Stress, available here. Many of the stressors lawyers face are not unique to the legal profession, but instead may be on a greater scale due to caseload and responsibilities.
While it is generally best to seek professional help for mental health and substance abuse issues, that is not always possible. For law students and attorneys interested in self-help solutions, there are a number of resources available:
Many mental health issues have been exacerbated by the recent pandemic. For resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic, see the following: