Lawyers are exposed to high levels of stress on a daily basis. In the long term, stress can drive people to use, misuse or even become addicted to alcohol or legal/illegal drugs, or to experience challenges to physical or mental health. Stress and the problems it creates are contributing factors in many LAWPRO claims.
LAWPRO encourages lawyers to take steps to manage stress, and to achieve a healthy and balanced lifestyle. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing difficulties, confidential help is available from the Law Society’s Member Assistance Program (“MAP”) (myassistplan.com). The MAP provides confidential assistance to Ontario lawyers, paralegals, judges, students at Ontario law schools and accredited paralegal colleges, licensing-process candidates, and their families. The MAP, which is operated by Homewood Health™, receives financial, arm’s-length support from the Law Society of Ontario and LAWPRO.
MAP services are multilingual and accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in a variety of convenient formats and without the need of a referral. You can access services:
- Online by visiting the protected Member Area of the MAP website (myassistplan.com)
- Over the phone by calling MAP
- Face-to-face counselling and coaching services.
The website is user-friendly and it is easy to setup a confidential, secure account. It provides everything from an orientation to a listing of the services, tools and other resources. There is an extensive online library of health and wellness articles as well as elder care and child care resource locators. There are e-courses to help you improve your skills (wellness, workplace effectiveness, etc.). Virtual e-counselling (simultaneous chat or secure message-based counselling) is available for a wide variety of topics.
There is also a multi-media health centre, where you can find information on everything from exercises for different breathing techniques, identifying areas of tension, health and wellness self-assessments, to videos and articles. The site has a “12 Weeks to Wellness” program – a weekly check-in on your health and fitness goals after assessing your health risk factors.
One of the most frequently accessed MAP resources is the counselling service. Experienced, credentialed therapists are available for in-person or online counselling and they are trained to help you throughout the different stages of life.
The peer-to-peer support program is a confidential and uplifting program. Legal professionals, who have experienced struggles in the past, help others overcome obstacles – such as depression, alcohol abuse or stress. Those who volunteer in this program are compassionate people who can empathize with issues that lawyers face. The peer support program encourages participants to discuss their experiences.
Finding work-life balance is one of the more difficult tasks we all face, and one that we often put to the side. The Law Society’s MAP program has numerous resources and services that can help you and your family meet the challenges of work and life. You are not alone and can reach out to MAP at any time: electronically, in person, or on the phone. Take the time to visit the MAP website or seek help if you or a loved one is struggling with stress or other challenges.