June 11, 2018

There's Help for Lawyers Who Suffer from Mental Illness

by Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, Inc.

You have probably heard about it in recent news: mental illness has taken the lives of our friends, relatives, celebrities and people from all walks of life. Lawyers are not immune to this condition. A prominent Florida lawyer committed suicide, yet none of his co-workers seemed to know that he was suffering. A lawyer in Silicon Valley, whose ex-wife found him dead from a drug overdose, was stressed, obsessed and depressed from the daily life of being an accomplished lawyer. Recent law school graduates studying for the bar exam are voicing their opinions about their anxiety and stress-some are even contemplating suicide.

But this isn’t news. Lawyers have always been susceptible to suffering from a mental illness, yet not many get help for it. Perhaps it’s the stigma that they feel mental illness is something they need to hide. Maybe it begins when they take the character and fitness test and are asked if they have a mental illness. Whatever the case is, it is crucial to get help for mental illness. If left untreated, mental illness can lead to substance abuse, which can lead to broken families, lost jobs, hitting rock bottom, and eventually death.

In a recent study, lawyers reported that the most common mental health conditions are “anxiety (61.1%), depression (45.7%), social anxiety (16.1%), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (12.5%), panic disorder (8.0%), and bipolar disorder (2.4%). In addition, 11.5% of the participants reported suicidal thoughts at some point during their career.”

At the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, we treat attorneys with mental health disorders, substance abuse problems and other addictions. In the first quarter of 2017, more than half of the files we opened were due to mental health or dual-diagnosis (mental health and substance abuse disorder). If you are suffering from a mental health issue, you are not alone. OLAP offers confidential and successful treatment programs.

Let’s continue the discussion about mental illness. Ohio lawyers and their clients deserve it.

Some signs and symptoms of a mental disorder
Below is a broad list of some of the signs and symptoms that are often associated with mental health issues.

  • Withdrawal from activities
  • Frequent absences
  • Inappropriate behavior, moods
  • Decreasing quality of performance
  • Inappropriate pleadings, decisions
  • Missed hearings, appointments, depositions
  • Loss of clients, practice, respect
  • Hostile behavior to staff and/or clients


Need more information? OLAP has self-tests that provide additional insight into mental health problems. Need help? Call the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program CONFIDENTIALLY at (800) 348-4343 or visit ohiolap.org