Lawyers are good at solving other people’s problems.
Yet, when it comes to needing help themselves, Lawyers’ are one of the professions least likely to seek help even when they know they are struggling.
Fear. Stigma. Shame.
All of these feelings arise from thoughts, rooted in biases and misunderstanding about mental health.
Thoughts such as:
- What will others think of me?
- Will I be seen as weak? A liability?
- This could affect my credibility and my career?
- Will they not trust me to get work done?
- I should be able to figure this out on my own.
- I should be able to deal with my mental health, work, colleagues, clients; and all the other obligations and responsibilities on my own.
- I am a failure if I cannot manage everything. I should be able to…..
FACT or FICTION?
These thoughts all flow from biases, misunderstandings and frankly lack of accurate information about mental health. They also flow from fear of being judged, rejected, fear that there is no help; fear that there is no way out.
Many of us have little appreciation and understanding about how our own mental health can be affected by life events and stressors, while at the same time, have internal biases based on well, fictions. The idea that “healthy people” are not going to have periods where their mental health is not optimum, and their ability to function productively is affected, is just not realistic. You can have a mental illness, and be well and functioning; and you can not have a mental illness, but be unwell and struggling to function at all. There is also a transient nature to our emotional wellness, and periods of struggle. This is life.
Fear may be one of the biggest factors that can prevent people from talking about their own mental health.
Fear can also prevent someone from reaching out to someone who seems to be struggling (It’s none of my business. What if they get upset, defensive or offended?).
Mental health, like physical health, will vary throughout our lives. Mental illness, like physical illness, is treatable.
There are things we can do to reduce our chances of suffering from some types of mental illness, there are things we can do to reduce our chances of suffering some types of physical illness. There are things we can do to maximize our mental health and wellbeing in all its forms, which include maximizing or improving our physical health, our emotional health, our spiritual health.
Sometimes professional therapy, and or medical treatment is required. Sometimes just connecting with someone to talk to who you can trust and you know will not judge, can reduce anxiety and overwhelm significantly and improve a person’s sense of wellbeing and ability to cope with life’s stressors. Relationships are everything. We need each other.