Click below for additional resource information on the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program (ALAP).
- Suicide Prevention
Depression and suicide have become urgent topics of study and discussion among bar associations and Lawyer Assistance Programs around the country. In addressing these issues there has been significant emphasis placed on the need to increase awareness and provide ongoing education regarding depression, the signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation and practical steps that can be taken to assist those who may be struggling under the weight of undiagnosed or untreated depression.
Recognizing suicidal behavior:
- Excessive sadness or moodiness
- Sleep problems
- Dangerous & continuous self-harm
- Making a plan
- Trauma/Life crisis
- Poor performance at work or school
- Giving away prized possessions
- Feeling excessive guilt
- Acting recklessly
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s mission is to provide immediate assistance to individuals in suicidal crisis by connecting them to the nearest crisis center in their area through a national, toll-free telephone number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
For more information, you can visit:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
American Society for Suicide Prevention
Addiction is a condition in which a person engages in the use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite inevitably worsening negative consequences. Addiction may involve the use of substances such as alcohol, inhalants, opioids, cocaine, nicotine and others, or behaviors such as gambling. Chemical dependence affects 8 to 11% of the general population but affects between 21% and 36% of attorneys. Substance use disorders, gambling behaviors and other addictions are often associated with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety or other preexisting problems.
- Alcohol Abuse and Mental Health Concerns among American Attorneys by Robert Thornhill
- Psychology Today
- New York Times: The Lawyer, the Addict
- Psychology Today: Drug and Alcohol Abuse in the Legal Profession
- My Story: What I Was, What Happened, and What I Am
- Before and After
- The Journey
- My Story of Struggle and Survival
Clinical Depression affects 5% of the general population. However, according to a national study published in February 2016, 28% of lawyers reported concerns with depression. This is an illness that affects the whole person. Depressed people struggle with loss of energy and motivation. They find it difficult to make decisions. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in daily activities is common. They tend to sleep too much or too little, and to eat too much or not enough. Their ability to think or concentrate is diminished. These symptoms combine to cause feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt. Tragically, many begin to have recurring thoughts of suicide.
Depressed people lack the power to “snap out of it” and regain control of their lives. They become incapable of perceiving situations and challenges objectively; their thought-life becomes distorted and negative, and they need assistance to gain insight and effective coping skills. ALAP can help!
Below is a list of depressive symptoms from National Institute of Mental Health:
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
To download a brochure on depression, click here.
- A Trip Through Depression
- Driving Past the Bar Center
- There May Be a Reason Life Seems So Rough
- Accommodation or Transformation
- Coping with the Catch 22s of Depression
- Suicide – GPSolo Magazine
- Dark Secrets
- The Devastation of Depression
- Lawyers and Mental Health
- Anxiety & Stress
Lawyers are often put under high demands when dealing with their caseload at work. It’s no secret that the stress of their job can cause them to suffer from high anxiety, stress and even paranoia.
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and various phobia-related disorders.
Ways to handle Stress
- Eat a healthy diet and avoid overeating
- Get adequate sleep
- Set aside time for rest and relaxation
- Avoid mood-altering substances
- If you drink, do so only on occasion and always in moderation
- Reach out to colleagues and/or the Alabama State Bar for assistance
- Utilize mindfulness meditation
- Seek counseling
- Reach out to ALAP
The following links are excellent resources from the ABA. Utilizing one or more of these recommendations or techniques can have a significant and positive impact in our personal lives and in our ability to function effectively as an attorney.
Well Being Report Well Being Toolkit Well Being Toolkit Nutshell
- Cognitive Impairment and Decline
Lawyer Assistance Programs around the country have become increasingly aware of the issue of Cognitive Impairment and the need to assist those attorneys and their families and colleagues who may be affected. Due to the aging of our society and the tendency for many in the legal profession to delay retirement, the issue of cognitive impairment is becoming a major concern. Cognitive impairment and decline are often early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. ALAP provides appropriate referrals for neurological and neuropsychological evaluation, and can assist with an appropriate and non-disciplinary avenue to discontinue the practice of law when indicated.
- Addiction and the Family
Family members can experience a great deal of pain when watching someone they love destroying themselves with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling or other types of compulsive behaviors. Often times, family members have tried every means possible to get the addict/alcoholic to stop. Below are some key facts that can help family members understand their position in the addict’s life:
- Addicts and alcoholics are INCAPABLE of seeing what their addiction is doing to themselves. It is no surprise that they are incapable of seeing what their addiction is doing to the people they love the most in the world.
- Addiction is a brain disease which causes significant changes to occur in the circuitry of the brain. These changes are responsible for the irrational, compulsive and high-risk behaviors often seen in individuals with addiction.
- Family members often believe they are somehow responsible for their loved one’s addiction. This is ABSOLUTELY not true. No matter what you have been told, you did not cause the addiction and you cannot fix the addiction. You can only take care of yourself, set healthy boundaries and allow the addict/alcoholic to fully experience the inheritably worsening negative consequences of active addiction.
- Family members experience an array of feelings about their loved one’s addiction. Unfortunately family members often catch themselves walking on egg shells around the addict in their life. It is not unusual for family members to even question their own sanity.
- Fear, anxiety and sleepless nights can lead to physical illness. It is important that family members take care of themselves no matter what.