ENTER 2019 – ATTORNEY MENTAL HEALTH TAKES CENTER STAGE WITH SEVERAL NEW INITIATIVES FROM THE YLD’S HEALTH AND WELLNESS COMMITTEE
The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division spent the first half of its 2018-2019 fiscal year preparing several initiatives designed to help its constituents improve their well-being. In doing so, we took on several new projects, all of which are culminating in the first half of 2019.
First, we drafted the Mental Health and Wellness Survey that was sent to all YLD members in November. The purposes of this survey were to help us identify: (i) who among us is experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health issues; (ii) why people experience these issues; (iii) how they are coping; (iv) what coping methods are (and are not) working; and (v) whether there are any common threads we see. We are currently evaluating the responses and developing proposed solutions based on responses we received. Expect to hear more about this exciting and potentially ground breaking project from us in February!
Second, we set our sights on finding ways to remove the stigma many in our profession have associated with seeking mental health treatment. In doing so, we decided to launch the #StigmaFreeYLD campaign, which we hope will make great strides toward this goal. We will share the details of this project with our local affiliates during January’s Affiliate Outreach Conference in Saint Augustine, Florida, and with the rest of The Florida Bar shortly thereafter. Stay tuned!!
Third, in conjunction with our 5th Annual Health and Wellness Month we will promote the Affiliate Health and Wellness Challenge, which will also be presented at this year’s Affiliate Outreach Conference on January 12th. Based on the 9th Circuit’s successful challenge last year that worked wonders for bringing together a strong support community for its members, we have created a template so other affiliates can easily host their own challenges. The template can be found under the 2019 Affiliate Health and Wellness Challenge link below. This year’s grant eligibility will also be tied to participation in the Challenge. Applications can be found at the link on that page or to the right of this page. Keep an eye out for exciting things to come in May and make sure you sign up to follow our social media posts!
Fourth, the Health and Wellness Committee has worked hard to put on several wellness-related webinars for free CLE credit this year. Check the Webinars link below to watch these at your convenience. Note that we have kept expired webinars online because the content is just too good to miss, so make sure to verify that the webinar you choose is still eligible for CLE credit if that is part of why you are checking it out.
Fifth, when you spoke about the fear and stress caused by the mental health questions on the Florida Bar Application, we listened! Over the past year we have worked closely with The Florida Bar to convey these concerns and suggest solutions. Effective November 1st, the mental health questions on the Florida Bar Application have been modified to remove ambiguity about what bar examiners are asking. Importantly, the application now makes it clear that the Board supports applicants seeking mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment, views effective treatment by a licensed professional as enhancing one’s ability to meet the essential eligibility requirements to practice law, and states that “[s]eeking counseling to assist with stress or anxiety will not adversely affect the outcome of a Florida Bar Application.” It further notes that the Board does not require applicants to disclose such counseling. We think these revisions are a significant improvement and should greatly reduce the confusion and stress applicants have had surrounding these questions in the past.
The YLD and its Health and Wellness Committee are committed to improving the lives of our constituents by improving their well-being in any way we can. To that end, we do not have a monopoly on good ideas, so we encourage you to reach out to co-chairs Natasha Dorsey (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ben Gibson (BenGibson01@gmail.com) and Ethan Wall (email@example.com) with any ideas or questions.
Thank you for taking the time to visit our site, and please check back often for updates on our various initiatives, upcoming webinars for free CLE credit, and all of our exciting Health and Wellness Month activities!