Time to Talk About Mental Health in the Legal Profession

Today, you may notice that your social media feeds are filled with messages about mental health and ending the stigma of mental illness. It’s Bell Canada Let’s Talk Day. Why care?

While people may discriminate, mental illness does not. Mental illness cuts across professions, ages, cultures, classes and the list goes on and on. 1 in 5 Canadians will struggle with mental illness. That’s about 4.5 million Canadians and half of those are adults. Check out the statistics on mental health in Canada here.

According to a LawPro Magazine article on mental health, ” In 2011 , mental illness cost Canadian business six billion dollars in lost productivity and absenteeism.” This doesn’t apply to other professions. It includes the legal profession.

Most often the focus is on the clients’ mental health issues. There is a tendency to avoid looking at, talking about and listening to law school students and legal practitioners when it comes to mental health issues.

The stigma surrounding mental illness stops lawyers and law school students from seeking support. The fear that no one will hire them or they will be disbarred if it’s discovered paralyzes many and keeps them from getting help. They suffer in silence.

Many lawyers will leave the profession and many students will leave their law school program. It’s time to talk, and end the stigma surrounding mental illness within the legal profession.

Thankfully the legal profession is waking up. The Fall 2015 issue of the Nova Scotia Bar Association was dedicated mental health. Our own Megan Seto, WLMP Vice Chair and lawyer, was featured in the magazine. She offers great insights on page 11 of this issue. You can also read Ms. Seto’s paper on mental health and the legal profession by clicking here.

Still wondering why you should care about mental health and take part in Bell’s Let’s Talk initiative to raise awareness and money by Tweeting using the #BellLetsTalk hashtag, or sharing their message give a listen to what Clara Hughes has to say.

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