We are experiencing what our email inboxes repeatedly call “unprecedented times”. Many Canadians are facing lost employment and financial strain; many are taking on a large number of new responsibilities as they act as home-schooling teacher and caretaker for their children; and all Canadians face the new anxieties and fears now associated with shopping for food and necessities during a pandemic. Physical distancing policies have turned our world upside down, and it is challenging for many of us to stay isolated within our homes. These new stressors are sources of anxiety, stress, and uncertainty, and can have serious deleterious impacts on our mental health.
Here’s a collection of resources that can help you adapt to our new status quo and stay mentally and physically healthy.
Lawyers: Know thyself
Even in ordinary circumstances, mental health issues take a serious toll on many Canadians. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), in a given year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness such as depression, severe anxiety, or stress disorders. By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, almost half will have or have had a mental illness.
These problems are even more common among lawyers: The American Bar Association has found that the likelihood of depression is 3.6 times higher for practising lawyers. These pre-existing risks are exasperated by the novel stresses brought about by COVID. LAWPRO's article on “Understanding mental health in the legal profession” explores the long history of lawyers’ increased susceptibility to mental health problems.
It may all feel overwhelming— this is understandable. Some lawyers may be experiencing an increased workload during the pandemic; some may see much of their work dry up. Regardless, we aren’t going back to the “before times”, and we will all need to adapt.
It’s important for lawyers to know that their mental health concerns are common, and there is no shame in experiencing a mental health issue. We are all human and are all susceptible to the psychological impacts of the pandemic.