… and mixed in with the professional and social aspects of the ill health is the huge problem of stigma.
If anything, this is probably the most significant hindrance to thinking about and actually addressing the problem of mental illness in the profession.
Although a current motto for mental health awareness is “no health without mental health”, much of the time little more than lip service is paid into this aspiration.
A stigma is a mark or brand that is seen by others. The word has the same root as the word “stick”. A mark is made by a stick.
This has much to do with how we feel we are perceived.
Stigma clouds the problem with thoughts of losing face, reduction in status, being seen as weak, fears of being overlooked in promotion and perceived as fragile.
It can lead to social isolation, exclusion, bullying and scapegoating.
Self-esteem is brought into the spotlight.
We might fear a record of depression going onto our medical records and then having to declare this in the future insurance proposals.
Someone was recently heard to say, “It would be easier at work for me to come out as gay, than ask for two weeks off for stress”.
As individuals, it may be that one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is facing the possibility that the mental ill health might actually affect me rather than the person working at the next desk.
(This is an edited excerpt from my book A Lawyer’s Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress published by ARK Group in 2015.)