Stigma, shame, and fear. These obstacles frequently play a major role in an individual’s decision not to seek help when suffering from mental health and substance use disorders. Too often, lawyers, judges, and law students find themselves wrestling privately with frustration and despair as an addiction or mental health problem dominates their life and threatens their career.
To raise awareness about the nature of addiction and mental health distress in our profession and to challenge the biases and stigma that surround those problems, the ABA’s Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs (CoLAP) created a profession-wide anti-stigma campaign that will feature a series of videos highlighting the personal recovery stories of lawyers, judges, and law students who have overcome these issues. These videos send the message that recovery from addiction and mental health problems is entirely possible for legal professionals. Our goal is to ensure that fewer of our colleagues face these challenges alone.
The first video, entitled “FEAR NOT: SPEAKING OUT TO END STIGMA” features a diverse group of lawyers, a judge and two law students who openly talk about the challenges with behavioral health issues, including depression, anxiety, alcoholism and drug addiction, their recovery and the vital importance of asking for help.
Special thanks to the participants in this video, whose willingness to share their story will change lives, and to the sponsors whose support made the project possible.
We encourage you to share these videos and help us in our efforts to raise awareness and challenge bias around mental health and substance use disorders.