The Law Society makes addressing mental health and substance use issues a priority

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine of nearly 13,000 American lawyers found that:

  • over 36 per cent showed signs of possible alcohol dependence,
  • more than 45 per cent of responding lawyers described experiencing depression,
  • 11.5 per cent reported having had suicidal thoughts at some point in their careers, and
  • the primary barrier to lawyers seeking treatment or assistance is stigma and the fear of others finding out that they need help

Mental health and substance issues are also driving lawyers to leave the profession early, some after they have become the subject of discipline proceedings, complaints or other claims, or after experiencing interpersonal difficulties at home or at work.

The Law Society has made a commitment to improve education and support a culture shift in how the profession approaches mental health and substance use issues. As a regulator, the Law Society has vowed to identify ways to reduce stigma, and to review its discipline and admissions processes to consider how best to deal with mental health and substance use issues.

Click here to read the Spring 2018 Benchers' Bulletin feature article on mental health issues in the legal profession.

Mental Health Task Force

The Law Society's Benchers established a Mental Health Task Force at their January 28, 2018 meeting. The task force's mandate is to:

  • identify ways to reduce the stigma of mental health issues; and
  • develop an integrated mental health review concerning regulatory approaches to discipline and admissions.

Read the task force's terms of reference and the 2018 mid-year report

Members of the legal community are welcome to send ideas, input or feedback to the task force by email at mentalhealth@lsbc.org.

Resources for lawyer wellness and support

If you or someone you know requires support, do not hesitate to reach out for help.

LifeWorks Canada

The Law Society funds personal counselling and referral services through LifeWorks Canada Ltd. Services are confidential and available at no cost to individual BC lawyers and articled students and their immediate families. For more information on how to access LifeWorks’ services, log in to member portal or call 1.888.307.0590.

Lawyers Assistance Program

The Lawyers Assistance Program provides confidential support, counselling, referrals and peer interventions for lawyers, their families, support staff and articled students who need help to deal with alcohol or chemical dependencies, stress, depression or other personal problems. For more information, visit the Lawyers Assistance Program’s website or contact them at 604.685.2171 or info@lapbc.com.

Other programs and resources

BC Centre on Substance Use has a mandate to develop, help implement, and evaluate evidence-based approaches to substance use and addiction. Its core functions include research and evaluation, education and training and clinical care guidance.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (BC division) facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness.

Crisis Line Association of BC offers a call-in service for those in crisis:

  • 1-800-SUICIDE: Call 1-800-784-2433 if you are having a crisis or are concerned about someone who may be. Available 24 hours a day.
  • Call 310-6789 (no area code needed) toll-free anywhere in B.C. to access emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health and substance use issues. Available 24 hours a day.

The Government of BC offers a range of resources on its Mental Health and Substance Use resource page.

The list of resources above is not intended to be an endorsement of the organizations and is not meant to be exhaustive.