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  • Writer's pictureJinks Crow

Mental Health Awareness: Maybe We Should Talk About It

Lawyers are paid to communicate effectively.  However, with our busy schedules, conversations about mental health often are pushed to the sidelines. Lawyers are trained to navigate complex legal landscapes, but a lot of us are not comfortable discussing mental health and well-being.


a group of people sitting in a circle talking to one another

If we’re honest, we all know that acknowledging and addressing mental health is critical to maintaining a balanced existence. If you are among those who need a gentle nudge from that comfort zone, below are a few suggestions to point you in the right direction.

 

  1. Lead by Example: Set the tone for your workplace culture by openly discussing your own experiences with mental health. Sharing personal stories of overcoming challenges or seeking help can break down barriers and encourage others to do the same.

  2. Normalize the Conversation: Mental health affects everyone, regardless of profession or status. By normalizing discussions about mental well-being, you can create a supportive environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing their concerns without fear of judgment or stigma.

  3. Educate Yourself*: Take the time to educate yourself about mental health issues, including common symptoms, available resources, and effective coping strategies. This knowledge equips them to recognize warning signs in themselves and others and offer appropriate support.

  4. Provide Resources: You can play a crucial role in connecting colleagues with mental health resources and support networks. This may include providing information about counseling services, employee assistance programs, or mental health hotlines.

  5. Initiate Small Conversations: Starting conversations about mental health doesn't always require grand gestures. Simple acts like asking a colleague how they're feeling or checking in with them during stressful times can go a long way in showing support and fostering open communication.

  6. Create Safe Spaces: Designate safe spaces where individuals feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics related to mental health. This could be a confidential support group, a dedicated mental health awareness day, or regular check-ins with a trusted colleague.

  7. Listen Without Judgment: When someone shares information about their mental health, it's essential to listen actively and empathetically. Avoid offering unsolicited advice and instead focus on validating their feelings and experiences.

  8. Encourage Self-Care: Encourage colleagues to prioritize self-care and mental well-being. This may involve promoting healthy work-life balance, taking regular breaks, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and stress relief.

 

By initiating conversations about mental health and creating a supportive workplace culture, we can contribute to the well-being and resilience of ourselves and our colleagues. Opening a dialogue not only reduces stigma but also strengthens relationships and fosters a sense of community within the legal profession.

 

*For a more in depth look at mental health concerns among lawyers, check out this week’s More Than a Lawyer Podcast with Christy Crow. Christy and her guest, Andy Nichols, will share their own dialogue about mental health, what Andy is doing in his community to bring help and awareness to the issues, and the challenges faced by lawyers in addressing this critical issue.  For more information about Lawyer Mental Health and Wellness, check out the first ever Alabama Lawyer issue dedicated to lawyer health and wellness, released in November 2019. 

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