Lawyers, Doctors, Accountants, Dentists and other Professionals are often viewed by society as strong, powerful, indestructible, and wholly self-reliant. However, reality is often quite the opposite.
As an attorney and mental health professional, I, too, have lived under that image and pressure. A self-maintained stigma that we can’t ask for help since we are the ones who are trained to help others. Recent studies show that professional men and women suffer greatly from mental health issues and substance-abuse.
A 2016 study done by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation found that out of 13,000 lawyers surveyed, between 20.6 and 36.4 percent could be considered problem drinkers. The study also found that 28 percent of those surveyed suffered from depression, and 19 percent had anxiety.
According to a 2018 article in Economia, nearly a third of accountants (30.4%) suffer from mental health issues, with more than half (51%) admitting depression and anxiety leaves them dreading going to work. The top factors cited by accountants as contributing to poor mental health included jobs being boring (42.1%), lack of confidence in one’s own abilities (31.6%), and working with customers and clients (26.3%).
Medical professions faced similar mental health issues. Nearly 40 percent of doctors in the United States hesitate to seek out mental health care out of concern it may negatively affect their licensing applications, according to a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Likewise, research shows that Registered Nurses suffer from depression at almost twice the rate of individuals in other professions. Dentists, unfortunately, are not immune from the impact that their profession has on their mental health. One study summarized in the Journal of the American Dental Association examined more than 3,500 dentists. Thirty-eight percent reported feeling worried or anxious constantly or frequently. In the same study, 34% of respondents said they always or frequently felt physically or emotionally exhausted, and 26% reported continuous or frequent backaches and headaches..
How Are Professionals Impacted?
It would seem logical that men and women who have successfully completed college and then graduate school earning an advanced degree in law, accounting or medicine, would be immune from the pressure of their chosen careers. Research reveals a very different conclusion.
Working and building a career in these highly competitive professions often results in people feeling immense pressure to succeed at all costs. For medical professionals, graduating at the top of their classes in order to land the best residencies and hospital assignments is a significant factor in their self-imposed pressure. CPAs and Attorneys who work for large firms face the endless requirement to cultivate new and bigger clients for the firm so that they can one day become a partner in the firm is a 24-7 marathon. For dentists, working in isolation, in confined spaces and with little to no room for error can lead to depression.
In addition to anxiety and depression, substance abuse by professionals is growing day-by-day. Whether you are using drugs or alcohol to increase your energy and stamina to complete your workload, or using these substances to try and cope with your anxiety or stress, substance use often begins innocently enough, but quickly spirals out-of-control and ruins many lives.
What Are Some Challenges To Getting Help?”
The biggest challenge for professionals receiving the mental health help that they need is their reluctance to ask for help. Professionals who are licensed by their State’s Board are often afraid to acknowledge any mental health issues for fear of the negative impact it could have on their license’s status. Similarly, those in work for large firms or organizations are often afraid to let higher management know that they may need help for fear of appearing “weak,” “unsuccessful” or a “drain” on the firm or organization. It’s very common and makes sense in context for a lawyer or CPA to withhold their mental health issue when they have already worked so hard to make partner or complete their partnership track.
How Can Eric Help?
As an Attorney practicing law for over 2 decades, I inherently know the challenges, pressure and impact that being a professional can have on one’s mental health. By combining that background and experience with being a Mental Health Professional with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, I understand the impact your mental health has not only on you, but on your entire family system.
Working with a mental health professional who understands your lifestyle, your pressures, and your “world” without explanation is invaluable. Regardless of the extent of your concerns, I work with professionals like you in a collaborative manner, without judgment. I utilize various interventions and techniques, such as mindfulness, CBT, and experiential therapy to help you manage, reduce or eliminate these issues and problems from impacting your daily professional and personal life.
Here at Discovering Destinies, our mission is to provide effective, respectful and sensitive therapy and counseling to you, your spouse or partner, child(ren) and/or family so that you can live a happy, content and meaningful life. Most importantly, we never judge you based upon your values, beliefs, race, ethnicity, culture or sexual orientation.
If you or a loved-one are ready to Explore Your Emotions™, or are just contemplating individual, couples or family therapy, we are here to help by answering all of your questions and explain the process of therapy in a non-pressured way. We can be reached at 561-475-5800 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.