Mental Health Care

for  Lawyers

January 2017
Welcome to 2017 

Some of us will bounce into work refreshed and energised after the Christmas/New Year period keen to face the challenges of another year. Having enjoyed the break, we are now glad to have the structure of work fill our days.

Some of us will slide back into our offices with a wistful desire to extend the holiday period.  More indifferent in our approach we neither anticipate with excitement nor dread the year ahead.  We simply wish we could have had a few more days lying on the beach reading our favourite author or relaxing watching the tennis.

There are others of us who return feeling unrefreshed, dreading not simply the challenges that will arise in the year but the day to day routine of work, managing case files and client contact.  We think we should feel different but we don’t.

The concept of equanimity applies whatever our emotional state is returning to work.  We often think of equanimity as being detached, distant or coldly removed from things.  As lawyers, we can think equanimity is where we are unaffected by emotions and feelings.  Yet, it is difficult to be distant and unaffected when we are filled with either enthusiasm or angst towards situations.

In reality, equanimity refers to an evenness of mind, an ability to balance both emotions and thoughts without getting caught up in the drama of the particular situation.  For example, as a grandfather, I love my grandchildren deeply yet having had my own children I can stand slightly aside from the drama of their lives.  This is not because I don’t care or am disinterested in what they are going through, rather I know from experience the dramas they experience today will often be replaced by new dramas and challenges.  I am able to be present without getting caught up in the drama and tension they are experiencing.  This is what is meant by equanimity.

How can we develop this quality in our lives?  One way is to develop a sense of well-being.  A well-being that is enhanced when we give ourselves permission to take time to enjoy simple pleasures.  By simple pleasures I mean positive experiences in our everyday lives that are readily accessible to most of us at little or no cost (Hofman, 2016).  Often we feel we are too busy, that there is not enough time or that we will take time when we have met the next deadline.  However, the deadlines are never met, they are simply exchanged for the next deadline and meanwhile our sense of well-being shrivels and atrophies for lack of permission and enjoyment. 

A recent study by Nicole Mead and Wilhelm Hofman points to the fact that allowing ourselves to enjoy simple pleasures not only improves our sense of well-being, it acts as a buffer against the detrimental effects of the many small annoyances we experience each day As a result we are able to reach our goals with greater ease (Hofman, 2016). 

As lawyers, we are often time poor.  We scurry through our days convincing ourselves that at some point we will have the time to reward ourselves by doing what we enjoy.  Instead, the small annoyances build up, we feel we can’t take a break, we lose perspective and along with it our sense of equanimity.

Perhaps we could try something which seems counter-intuitive.  Perhaps we could allow ourselves to enjoy a simple pleasure each day to improve our sense of well-being and develop a sense of equanimity that will safe guard us against the annoyances and challenges that will come our way this year.
Training Calendar for 2017
In 2017 MHLC will be conducting the following free CPD for lawyers. 
The venue and times will be advised closer to each session.  We are looking forward to your participation in these events.
Date of CPD Competency Area – Legal Practice Board Topic Brief Description
23 February No 2 – Professional Skills The more I talk, the more they will understand…..won’t they? 
Is your message really getting through
Lawyers work with words but are often poor communicators.  This CPD
  • looks at what else we need apart from words to communicate effectively. 
  • is an introduction to communicating with clients who have mental health issues.
23 March No 2 – Professional Skills Communicating with clients who have mental health issues Communicating with a person who experiences mental health issues can be challenging. This CPD examines how we can improve our communication style and skills to be more effective when communicating to clients who have mental health issues. 
27 April No 2 -  Professional Skills The other intelligence required by lawyers Problem solving skills, logical, rational intelligence are essential skills for a good lawyer.  So is emotional intelligence.  This CPD looks at what emotional intelligence is and how we can develop it.
25 May No 2 – Professional Skills Dealing with High Conflict Clients & Colleagues - Introduction Working with co-workers or clients who seem to create or attract conflict is stressful.  This CPD looks at techniques to lessen the impact of these co-workers & clients on ourselves. 
22 June No 2 – Professional Skills Mirror, Mirror you are my Mirror”
Dealing with Narcissistic Clients & Colleagues
Building on the previous CPD, this session provides pointers to how we can identify narcissistic clients and co-workers and manage our interactions with them more effectively
27 July No 2 – Professional Skills “I love you, I hate you – but don’t you leave me!”
Dealing with clients who have Borderline Personality Disorders
This CPD looks at Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and how to communicate more effectively and manage clients who have BPD.
24 August   Taboos
Masculinity, the law & suicide
This session is for men & women interested in men.  It looks at men’s socialization and how the structure and practice of law can re-inforce this socialization and result in less than optimal behavior ranging from bullying, mental health issues and suicide.
28 September No 1 – Practice Management When the Black Dog Wears Robes and a wig
Depression & lawyering
The incidence of depression continues to increase amongst lawyers.  This CPD looks at
  • how to recognize depression before it becomes entrenched;
  • the stigma of weakness and how it impacts on depression
  • self-care for the long distance
26 October No 1 – Practice Management The anxious business of being perfect
Dealing with anxiety and perfectionism in the practice of law
Many people confuse having high standards with the need to be perfect.  Striving for perfection can leave us exhausted, stressed, burnt out and that is just the beginning.  This CPD looks how we can stop striving for perfection and maintain high standards and good mental health.
23 November No 1 – Practice Management The Resilient Practitioner
Building and Enhancing Resiliency
What is resiliency? 
How do we recognize it in ourselves and can we enhance the resiliency we do?
This CPD looks at how we can develop our resilience to protect our Mental Health.
On request we can provide training for lawyers on mental health issues. Please email Attn. David Kernohan to make an enquiry.
Copyright © 2015 Mental Health Law Centre (WA) Inc, All rights reserved.

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The Mental Health Law Centre WA Inc · 96-98 Parry Street · Perth, WA 6000 · Australia

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