Lawyers Have Terrible Mental Health
Lawyers have terrible mental health compared to most other professionals.
Just how bad is it? Research has been conducted in various countries: typically, lawyers are found to be 3-4 times more likely to suffer depression than non-lawyers.
Sadly it get worse: some studies have shown that by the time they graduate, 40% of law students suffer depression. And that’s before the real pressure starts.
Unsurprisingly then, divorce rates, suicide rates, alcoholism and drug addiction are all greatly higher among lawyers. How much greater? Suicide rates are 6 times higher for lawyers than in the general population. It can be as a high as 11% of all lawyer deaths being caused by suicide. Let’s stop there; the full statistical picture is enough to depress anyone!
Any and every lawyer can give a detailed account of the reasons the work can be so unpleasant. But few lawyers have any training in mental health, and thus are ill-equipped to deal with the multiple and frequent stressors.
With that combination of factors, multiple and frequent stressors and limited or no knowledge of how to deal with them) it is no surprise that so many lawyers are in such poor mental health.
What is surprising is that so few lawyers take constructive steps to deal with their problems.
Typically lawyers, like all highly intelligent people, make it very difficult to be helped, whether that help is other or self-provided.
Bright people can usually argue themselves into justifying whatever they feel, however horrible and unpleasant those feelings may be. Having justified it, they, unknowingly set themselves up to perpetuate or worsen their problem. The very factors that lead lawyers to depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, divorce, thoughts of suicide… are the same factors that make them refuse to seek or accept help.
Less bright people, by stark, often lifesaving contrast, are able to accept outside help more easily, and recover more completely and more quickly.
Bright lawyers, typically, resort to “self-medication” (having adopted a very bleak view of life, and thus of the help available). “Self-medication” often takes the form of alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal), with all the well-known downward spiralling effects that inevitably follow.
Fortunately, we now understand much more about the factors that lead to poor mental health among lawyers (both solicitors and barristers). Even more fortunately, the route to recovery is also much better understood. In fact, we now understand more about mental health problems, their causes and treatments than ever before.
If you are a lawyer wish to take the first steps to addressing your mental health challenges, call
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