Last Tuesday evening, I chaired a seminar at the Queensland College of Law regarding the prevalence of mental health concerns in the legal profession. It was most interesting to hear from the panellists, John Britton (inaugural Legal Services Commissioner) and Rebecca Michalak (Director, Psych Safe). The talk was incredibly eye opening and I am sure that the group of lawyers and law students that attended gained a lot from participating in the session.
It is well documented that a greater percentage of lawyers suffer from mental illnesses and emotional distress when compared with the general population. For example, lawyers are twice as likely to suffer from depression, twice as likely to become alcoholics, and if they are men, twice as likely to commit suicide. Perhaps less known, however, is the unknown effect that this prevalence of emotional distress is having on the ethical decision making of lawyers.