Wellness Wednesday: Ask the question.

When it comes to attorney wellness, I do not doubt that most lawyers and legal professionals want to help those in need.  In that respect, we’ve come a long way from the days when we convinced ourselves “that person’s issues are none of my business.”

No, I don’t think we continue to ask ourselves “should I help?”  Instead, from personal experience and stories shared by other legal professionals, my sense is that we now tell ourselves “I want to help, but I have no idea what to do.  So, I probably should stay out of it so that I don’t make it worse.”

Fortunately, the folks at the Institute for Well-Being in the Law are here to help us to help others.


The Institute has created Managing Mental Health in the Workplace: A Challenging Conversations GuideI recommend it for anyone wondering how and where to begin.

The Guide begins by sharing 11 tips on how to approach a colleague.  I like them all, especially the first and last.

Recognizing that we’re often unsure whether to reach out, Tip 1 urges us to trust our instincts and to “err on the side of checking on the person.”  Meanwhile, Tip 11 echoes a point I’ve learned from experts in the wellness community: sometimes the best thing to do is to ask, “are things okay?”  As the Guide points out by quoting an anonymous person:

  • “What made a huge difference was being asked if I was okay – simple as that.”

From there, the 4-page Guide includes:

  1. Signs It May Be Time To Have A Conversation.
  2. Conversation Checklist.
  3. Questions/Statements That May Help.
  4. Questions To Encourage Action.
  5. Questions/Statements To Avoid.

And more.

Again, I’m no expert and I’m often reluctant to help and even more clueless how to do so.  But thanks to resources like the Guide and the people who published it, I’ve learned a few things, including that sometimes a simple “are you okay” is all that it takes.

Ask the question.

And, when you do, remember that if the person’s response is “no,” that’s okay too.

Because it’s okay not to be okay. Help is available.

Previous Wellness Wednesday Posts

Yes, wellness includes the results of my first moot court competetion

Wellness Wednesday:  It’s okay to ask for help.  Bar Assistance will listen and support you

Wellness Wednesday: Set communication boundaries with clients and opposing counsel

Wellness Wednesday: Compassion Fatigue

Wellness Wednesday: A message from Justice Eaton

Jessica Burke: “Well People Do”

Wellness Wednesday: Schitt$ Creek and Paddles

Wellness Wednesday: Be Kind to Lawyers

Civility Matters. Especially Now.

Coping with COVID-19 Related Stress & Anxiety

Wellness Wednesday: Unplug

Well-Being is an Aspect of Competence

Wellness Wednesday: Survival Skills

Wellness Wednesday: Make time for what (and who) matters

Wellness Wednesday: Risk & Response (this one is about the report I mentioned from the Virginia State Bar)

Do summer your way

Wellness Wednesday: Meet Alison, Shireen, Samantha, and Alison

Reach Out, Check In

Wellness Wednesday: Mentor Someone

Wellness Wednesday: Joan Loring Wing

Wellness Wednesday: Law Day & Pro Bono

Get your sleep

Take a Chance on Being Nice

Attorney Wellness: We’ve Only Just Begun

Be Kind to a Lawyer Today

Be Nice to Someone Today

Wellness v. Well-Being

Wellness Wednesday: Meet Molly Gray

Wellness Wednesday: Judge Garland & My Cousin Vinny

Shakespeare, Pink Floyd and Wellness

Wellness Wednesday: You are not an impostor

Wellness Wednesday: “N O” is “O K”

Wellness Wednesday: Stop it!

Wellness Wednesday: Meet Jeff Messina

Lawyers Helping Lawyers Part 2

Lawyers Helping Lawyers: Keep it on the front burner

Lawyer Well-Being: a call to action

Anxiety, Stress & Work-Life Balance for Lawyers

Make time for what matters

Lawyer Wellness: resolve to find 6 minutes for yourself

108 is way too many

Workplace Happiness

Make Wellness a Habit

A pledge by legal employers to focus on lawyer well-being

Legal Ethics & the Water Cooler

Wellness Wednesday: Island Vines

Wellness Wednesday: on ponds, puffery and paltering

Wellness Wednesday: Neil Diamond, the Lock Screen, and National Mental Health Day for Law Students

5 thoughts on “Wellness Wednesday: Ask the question.

  1. Michael, that looks like very good information. And, thank you very much for the help you continue to give to members of the legal community by way of the legal assistance and wellness programs. We truly are in this together. Michael Kiey


  2. When I started practicing law, there was plenty of sex discrimination around. I did not get a job offer with a judge because he didn’t believe me when I answered in the affirmative his question about whether my husband would move if I was offered the job. I decided to leave another job in private practice when my boss hired a male non-attorney and paid him more than me, because he said “he had a family to support.” I have other stories that I won’t bore you with. But, today, in my opinion, it is worse. At least male attorneys acted, more or less, like gentlemen back in the day. Now, some male attorneys (and female attorneys who try to emulate them), in particular, are crude, rude, nasty, and extremely intolerant. That is why we have a wellness problem, in my opinion. Some attorneys would put seventh graders to shame. Here are my suggestions for wellness:
    1. Don’t troll attorneys (yes, it is happening to me) You must have better things to do.
    2. Hatred makes you sick. Give it up. Life is too short.
    3. Bigotry also makes you sick. Embracing diversity will broaden your horizons. And I mean diversity of the mind. The most bigoted people I know are those who call themselves “liberal”.
    4. If you cannot say something nice, keep quiet. And that goes for the every day vulgarities that I am sick and tired of hearing. We have trigger words for the most banal remarks (but only if they come from deplorables), but what should be, for feminists at least, the most triggering vulgarity –the f-bomb–is written and spoken with impunity.
    My two cents.


Comments are closed.