KBA Lawyers Advocating Wellness

Happy New Year! The LMICK Board of Directors and staff wish you happiness, peace, success, prosperity, and good health as we embark upon another year. We appreciate having you as an insured and look forward to serving your professional liability insurance needs throughout the year.

With 2020 in the rear-view mirror, we were enjoying the process of brainstorming the many topics that we could raise and discuss in this first LMICK Minute of 2021. However, as we learned of the multiple lawyer suicides that have occurred since late December, it became abundantly clear what the focus of this LMICK Minute must be. First and foremost, we extend our condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those members of the bar that we’ve lost.

We often talk of attorney mental health and wellbeing as a legal malpractice risk factor. We will certainly speak in those terms again, but for the purposes of this communication, we simply want to convey our sorrow for the tragic loss of life, of fellow attorneys, of remarkable talent and of lost potential. Additionally, we want to make sure you are aware of the resources that are available to Kentucky attorneys who are struggling. Finally, we ask you to get trained to identify the behaviors of someone in need, to reach out to your attorney brethren and sistren and offer your care and concern.

Covid nothwithstanding, there are a number of resources, both national and local, available to assist. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) is at the ready 24 hours a days 7 days a week. Similarly, the Kentucky Lawyer Assistance Program (KYLAP) is also always accessible at (502) 226-9373. That number is monitored and someone will answer regardless of when you call. Aside from the aforementioned hotlines, KYLAP’s website contains information about the services provided by KYLAP (24-hour helpline, recovery meetings, etc.) and other websites, articles, and assistance available to you as a member of the Kentucky bar, i.e., tips and strategies for maintaining good mental health and wellbeing. Through its partnership with a private Employee Assistance Group, KYLAP’s helpline can connect you with one of the hundreds of mental health providers all across the state. If you need immediate care, you could have an appointment with a licensed professional in the geographic area of your choosing in as little at 24 hours. Insurance and private pay arrangements are accepted. If, however, you are unable to pay and you meet the income criteria, you will receive up to four (4) clinical sessions at no charge to you.

You might assume many of these offerings are not available during the pandemic. To the contrary, most of KYLAP’s programs and services have continued throughout the pandemic and continue still. For the safety of everyone involved, KYLAP has moved to a virtual platform where necessary, but they remain ready and able to offer help, support and guidance.

It has just been announced that the KBA Lawyers Advocating Wellness initiative will provide free mindfulness training every Tuesday in February at noon EST via zoom. The sessions will be taught by a health coach from the University of Kentucky and will feature the KORU method of mindfulness. You should have received the necessary information to register for the zoom meetings set to begin on February 2nd. For those not yet in crisis, please remember to be vigilant about taking care of your mental health. KBA President Tom Kerrick has made lawyer wellbeing a major component of his presidential platform. Please take advantage of the programming and information available through the Lawyers Advocating Wellness initiative. In the interim, please consider the following Top 10 Tips for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing from KYLAP.

  1. Keep active
  2. Take a break
  3. Sleep is important
  4. Eat well
  5. Drink in moderation
  6. Keep in touch
  7. Share how you are feeling
  8. Give back
  9. Be mindful
  10. Ask for help

In this time of personal isolation, our efforts to look after each other are likely the single best weapon we have against further loss. The LMICK Board and staff are committed to being better about reaching out and staying connected to the lawyers across the Commonwealth. We ask that you do the same. You may discover someone in need and help save a life. Most of us are not mental health professionals, so please consider receiving QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) training to be better equipped to identify someone who may need help. KYLAP and KJA are planning to offer and facilitate QPR trainings. LMICK may well do the same for its insureds. Stay tuned for more information in this regard. In the meantime, know the warning signs of someone in trouble as posted on the KYLAP website.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

If you observe any of these behaviors in someone you know, please encourage them to seek help for themselves or share their name with KYLAP. You may remain anonymous if you wish. 

Finally, if you are the one in need, please know that you are not alone and that LMICK, KYLAP, the KBA, KJA, KDC, and the entirety of the Kentucky bar support you and stand ready to be of assistance. Most of these groups are working to offer more support, encouragement, programming, training, etc. to ensure the wellbeing of the members of the bar. Our profession is better for having you in it. Please seek the help you deserve.