LSO launches program to help lawyer's mental health

The Law Society of Ontario has recently launched a new website in order to combat mental illness among its licencees.

Dubbed the "Well-being Resource Centre", the new site has aggregated several new & pre-existing mental health support initiatives all under a single area of the law society's website.

In psychiatry it has long been known that lawyers suffer from mental illnesses at a greater rate than the rest of society. Consistently, studies suggest that lawyers are up to 2x as likely to suffer from a mental illness than people from other professions. In order to deal with this, the Law Society is trying to make it easier for legal practitioners to seek out the help they may need.

The Well-being Research Centre contains articles about mental health and it also has a section on the LSO's "Member Assistance Program." This program is a free service funded by the Law Society and LAWPRO, an insurance provider. Despite the funding, the program claims it is entirely independent of the groups it is funded by. The program aims to provide licensees with online and telephone access to counselling and coaching provided by peer volunteers.

The Law Society itself has advocates for mental health inside the organization, such as the LSO's current treasurer Teresa Donnelly, an outspoken public speaker about mental health in the legal profession. As a prosecutor she says she was routinely exposed to many pressures and stresses during her 26 years as a crown prosecutor. "During these challenging times, to protect our mental health and foster our wellness we must continue to stay connected with our loved ones, friends and colleagues while practising physical distancing. We must also reach out when we need help."

Lawyers routinely suffer from burnout, anxiety, depression and addiction. They often fall prey to an unhealthy work-life balance which can manifest itself in many ways.

Another area where the resource centre may be useful to licensees is its offering of Continuous Professional Development credits, where lawyers can watch online courses and learn about how to manage their mental health while also earning necessary credits to remain in good standing with the law society.


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