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Lawyer assistance programs: What you need to know

wellness_mainThe holiday season has arrived. While this is a festive and fun time for many of us, the final months of the year can carry heavy emotions and loads of stress. This is especially true for anyone who struggles with mental health illnesses, whether that be depression, anxiety, addiction or another challenge.

If you know that the holidays could stir some negative emotions, prepare yourself so you can take this season in stride.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Virginia approved proposed rule amendments to encourage lawyer wellness, including some revisions to the Virginia Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. The program is a resource for legal professionals dealing with mental health and/or substance abuse issues, offering individual counseling and other resources to those in need.

Most legal professionals know that this resource exists. But not everyone knows what benefits can be gained from assistance programs.

Here are questions to ask yourself if you’re curious about getting help from JLAP.

Do I have a problem? 

No one can answer this question but you. However, if you feel that your work is making you feel lethargic, drained, that you have difficulty sleeping, are feeling anxious or are inclined to turn to drugs and/or alcohol to find reprieve from professional stress, JLAP may be able to help.

Consider taking a self assessment test to determine if JLAP has the right resources for you.

How can JLAP help me? 

JLAP program coordinators are aware that mental health and substance abuse issues are unique to each legal professional. Therefore, rather than offering blanket assistance to attorneys, JLAP has curated a variety of services “tailored to meet the needs of each situation.”

These services include:

  • Planning and implementing interventions
  • Providing treatment referrals, conducting assessments
  • Offering peer support for clients and counseling for families
  • Establishing and monitoring rehabilitation contracts

How do I get started? 

JLAP is available 24/7. You can call (877) 545-4682 or (804) 644-3212 or send a confidential email to get started with services.

Where can I find help in my area? 

There are JLAP support groups scattered throughout the state. Find a meeting near you today.

Being a legal professional is hard. It can be physically, mentally and emotionally taxing on lawyers and their loved ones. If you feel like your work is taking a toll on your wellbeing, JLAP may be a useful next step.

Remember: It’s OK to ask for help. You don’t need to go through this alone.