We recently wrote about the declaration of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week. Lawyers as a group are notorious for ignoring mental wellness and self care. I came across this opinion piece titled “A more inclusive discussion on the impact of trauma on lawyers’ mental health is needed“, published in Canadian Lawyer Magazine, and thought it was a good way to continue the conversation. It was written by Crystal Tomasiuk, Crown counsel with B.C. Prosecution Services, and discusses the vicarious trauma lawyers deal with in their practice. Having sat in on a couple of criminal trials, I have wondered how lawyers deal with the sometimes horrific facts and scenes they are exposed to.
Vicarious trauma can affect those of any background. As important as it is to recognize our collective vulnerability in this way, more is needed for a truly inclusive and trauma-informed approach. In particular, we need to face the prevalence of trauma in our society and explicitly address the fact that many of us come to the practice of law having already experienced significant trauma that may shape how our mental health is impacted by the pressures of the profession.
If you feel you’re suffering from vicarious trauma, or just the stress of the profession, the Law Society of Manitoba’s Health and Wellness program offers a free and confidential service for you and your family.