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Mental health in the legal profession

Advocacy is a prestigious and well-paid profession, but it also takes the place in professions with more mental health issues. In a recent survey 52% of practicing lawyers said they were dissatisfied, and most had a problem with drinks and other drugs. These professionals are more prone to depression than the general population. And as if that weren’t enough, the divorce rate among lawyers, especially women, is also higher than among other professionals.

A major factor of aggravation of this picture of unhappiness and problems with the mental health of lawyers – is the fact that these professionals do not admit having problems with anxiety or depression – due to the competitive nature of the profession. Such characteristics – in their eyes – can be considered as weakness.

The level of depression in the legal profession is 3.6 times higher than in other professions, and another factor that can be attributed to this would be the pessimistic view that is often necessary for the profession.

  • Analyze documents looking for flaws or parts that may be harmful to the operation
  • Analyze speeches and look for errors or read parts and analyze imperfections
  • And so forth

All of this is part of the profession’s daily routine and it can often be difficult to distinguish these professional moments from personal life, and this keeps the lawyer looking for flaws and problems with a pessimistic view of other aspects of his life as well, besides work.

Lawyers are rank among the most depressed professionals

One in three of them contemplate suicide at least once a year and about 30% suffer from clinical major depression. These are not good statistics- something is wrong. Another fact that ends up increasing the percentage of mental disorders in the legal profession would be the great demand and the work overload.

“Burn out” is an emotional disorder with symptoms of extreme exhaustion, stress and physical exhaustion resulting from stressful work situations, which demand a lot of competitiveness or responsibility.

Such a disturbance has accompanied the profession of lawyer for a long time, and it is necessary to collect it.

So… it’s necessary to slow down sometimes. As in adult life a lot of time is consumed by work. The World Health Organization says that the work environment – when negative – has a role in the global burden on the physical and mental health of the worker, in addition to enhancing the abusive use of drugs or alcohol, favoring the fall in productivity.

The medical literature has already demonstrated a correlation, for example, between depression and diet, level of physical activity, quality of sleep and social relationships”- psychiatrist Ana Paula Carvalho

Change is needed in the way mental disorders in the legal profession are dealt with, and greater awareness of such problems is also needed. In addition, it needs to be explained to professionals that admitting that you have certain disorders is not a sign of weakness, and that seeking help is not a way of showing fragility.

One way that some law firms found to get around this situation would be to hire a full time psychologist to be available to lawyers in the office, so that whenever they think it is necessary to go and talk to this health professional and explain what they are feeling and find ways to improve the Framework, they could.

That way we would be walking to a place where the profession will be more human and happy, in addition the working environment would be lighter and everyone would benefit, not only the lawyers, but also the people who live with them, their family and their social circle.

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