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Mental Illness Awareness Week 2021

October 04, 2021

October 3-9, 2021

October 3-9 is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). Organized by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, MIAW is an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness.

As the MIAW campaign tells us, there is no health without mental health. Mental health and well-being are important every day, but MIAW serves as an opportunity for the Law Society to pause and reflect on mental health in the professions and supporting clients, colleagues and loved ones who are experiencing mental health challenges.

For many, mental health challenges have multiplied as a result of the pandemic, leaving some feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and anxious. In a study conducted by the Conference Board of Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 84 percent of Canadians surveyed reported that their mental health concerns have worsened since the onset of COVID-19, making these conversations about mental health and well-being more relevant than ever. 

The Law Society is committed to supporting the well-being of Ontario’s legal professionals and those entering the professions. Preserving, enhancing, and investing in personal health, particularly mental health, is critical to the success of any legal practice and protects and serves the public interest.

Over the years, the Law Society has developed a number of resources to support licensees. If you are struggling with mental health or want to better understand how to support those who are, read on.

LSO Resources

Member Assistance Program (MAP)

MAP provides personal access to a full range of professional services including counselling, peer-to-peer support, crisis management services, substance abuse counselling, lifestyle and specialty counselling, as well as interactive online resources and peer resource tools. The confidential services are available free of charge to Ontario judges, lawyers, paralegals, licensing candidates, law students, paralegal students, and their immediate families.

MAP counselling services can be offered in person, by telephone, or online — based on preference. Professional counsellors are available throughout the province to help with practical and effective steps to improve well-being. MAP services are provided by Homewood Health and is funded by the Law Society.

To learn more visit www.myassistplan.com.

Practice Supports and Resources

The Law Society has a number of practice supports and resources to help lawyers and paralegals navigate their careers. 

Personal Management Guidelines provide strategies to recognize sources of stress and signs of mental illness and provides supports and resources to manage personal well-being in the legal profession.

The Coach and Advisor Network provides licensees with access to shorter-term, outcome-oriented relationships with Coaches and Advisors drawn from the professions.

The Practice Management Helpline is a confidential telephone service to help licensees with questions about the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Paralegal Rules of Conduct, and other professionalism and practice management topics.

The Discrimination and Harassment Counsel provides assistance to licensees, licensing candidates and members of the public, who experience discrimination and/or harassment from lawyers or paralegals because of mental health or any other issues.

Continuing Professional Development (CDP)
People-centered access to justice: Best practices for serving clients with mental health needs

People with mental health needs may experience barriers to accessing the justice system. As part of the Access to Justice Week 2021 programming, the justice sector is invited to join People-centered access to justice: Best practices for serving clients with mental health needs on Tuesday October 26. This free session will discuss how to identify when clients may be facing mental health challenges and the people-centred approaches to help legal professionals and their clients successfully navigate these challenges together. For more information on this session and how to register, view the Access to Justice Week schedule.

Please note that the application for CPD Professionalism accreditation is pending.

Mental Health Summit

The Law Society held its first Mental Health Summit in 2021 and has released the program as a free on-demand CPD program, accredited for eight hours of EDI professionalism content. During this program, legal professionals share their experiences with mental illness and how they tackle these issues in their professional lives. This session explores the impact of workplace and legal culture on legal professionals’ mental health, how to reduce stigma in the legal professions and how to support colleagues with mental illness. Access the Mental Health Summit.

Mental Health Resources

Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health

As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health has compiled a library of health and wellness resources.  Find resources available by province, or by topics such as workplace, seniors, youth, COVID-19 and more.  Click here to visit the Mental Illness Awareness Week resource centre.

COVID-19: Support for People

The Ontario government has created a mental health and addiction resource centre as part of it’s COVID-19 response.  Visit COVID-19 Supports for People to find resources for mental health and addiction, free life skill building programs, internet-based therapy, supports for children and youth, and supports for Indigenous peoples.

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