The Lifeguard is Drowning: Identifying and Combating Burnout and Secondary Trauma in Asylum Practitioners
Webinar | April 7 Asylum attorneys have been facing a longstanding mental health crisis. The pandemic, sweeping regulatory changes, and uncertainty created deeper dimensions of stress in an already chaotic immigration system. To address this crisis, in 2020, Professors Lindsay Harris and Hillary Mellinger surveyed over 700 immigration attorneys utilizing the National Asylum Attorney Burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress Survey. Their groundbreaking study found that asylum attorneys displayed symptoms of burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) at rates higher than immigration judges, social workers, hospital doctors, nurses, and prison wardens. Asylum attorneys reported burnout symptoms including not only depression, but boredom, cynicism, discouragement, and a loss of compassion. Notably, STS symptoms mirror Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which include intrusive thoughts, traumatic nightmares, insomnia, chronic irritability, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and hypervigilance.