Published in Law.com and The Mid-Market Report
By Ioana Good
The issue of mental health and wellness has long been a chief subject in the legal industry. Given the world around us and the current stresses we all face, this vital topic has become even more critical. Law firms are seeing an increased awareness focused on a wide range of subjects for well-being and mental health, including social, physical, mental, and more through advocacy, research, education, technical, and resource support.
Before the pandemic, the American Bar Association set out to create a wellness and mental health program, and asked law firms and those in the legal industry to commit to combating mental health issues and substance abuse together. The Institute for Well-Being in Law (IWIL) was formed two years ago to carry on the movement launched by the National Task Force Group. IWIL is dedicated to improving the lives of those in the legal profession by providing resources and support for stakeholders and partners. In a recent survey, they found that many in the legal field struggle with mental health and alcohol disorders. Over 35% of their respondents said they have issues with alcohol, and 28% reported mild or higher depression. Suicide in the legal industry was ranked #8 in a study of suicides by occupation. This is 1.33 times the national norm.
Law firms across the country are now able to sign the ABA Well-Being Pledge and offer resources and confidentiality to help lawyers with substance-use disorders and mental health issues. IWIL also developed the Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers. IWIL identifies six dimensions in people’s lives that they need to pay attention to: emotional, intellectual, occupational, physical, spiritual, and social. The organization offers a framework and guidelines for law firms to follow. The program also encourages open firm-wide discussions regarding wellness.
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