Efforts to Address Mental Health in the Profession Earn Industry Attention
Toronto, ON – In one year, OBA President Orlando Da Silva has made a powerful impact on the legal profession by advancing an open conversation about mental health.
After assuming the role of OBA President in August 2014, Da Silva established a mandate to work with the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) and promote a campaign designed to address the unique concerns of lawyers.
“Based on my own personal experiences, I know how difficult it can be to speak up and seek help,” said Da Silva. “When I became President of the OBA, I saw an enormous opportunity to talk about mental health issues, and in doing so attempt to reduce the stigma attached to such issues and do something to help others in the legal community.”
Da Silva began speaking publicly about his experiences with depression in the media, at Law Schools and in communities across the province early in his term. Over the course of his year as president, he addressed audiences from coast to coast.
In December 2014, the OBA launched Opening Remarks, a specialized program that has provided unique mental health supports for its members.
The OBA’s Opening Remarks initiative featured tailored supports, strategies and opportunities to talk more about mental health within Ontario’s legal community. The initiative included a series of customized tips (Mental Health Briefs); a six-module, free-to-members education program (The OBA’s Mindful Lawyer CPD Series); and, a cross-professional summit about mental health in the professions (All Rise: A Summit on Mental Health in the Professions).
Da Silva’s initiative and the work of the OBA have garnered considerable attention and praise from across the profession:
“Sharing my personal story has not always been easy, but it has turned out to be an incredibly rewarding opportunity,” Da Silva said. “I joined the OBA partly to surround myself with a supportive community of lawyers, and that is exactly what I found here after telling my story. I have also learned that there are many lawyers with stories of their own.”
“The reactions from within the legal community suggest to me that we must continue to advance the conversation about mental health issues within our sector and to support our community,” he added.
The OBA is encouraged by the response to date and will continue to work with its partners in the legal community to pursue an ongoing conversation about advancing mental health supports for professionals.
Established in 1907, the OBA is the largest voluntary legal association in Ontario and represents over 16,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. The OBA provides continuing professional development and advocates for improvements to the law in the interests of the profession and public.
For more information:
OBA Media Relations and Communications Manager
416-869-1047 x 364 or firstname.lastname@example.org