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 Guide. I 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:
- Signs It May Be Time To Have A Conversation.
- Conversation Checklist.
- Questions/Statements That May Help.
- Questions To Encourage Action.
- Questions/Statements To Avoid.
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
Wellness Wednesday: Risk & Response (this one is about the report I mentioned from the Virginia State Bar)