Some Thoughts On How We Think

Editor’s Note

The first sentence on the National Institute of Mental Health’s website is: “Mental illnesses are common in the United States.”11

More than 50 million Americans (one out of every five people) live with a mental health disorder. That’s the same percentage of people who, for example, live in a rural area,22 speak a language other than English at home,33∼:text=In%202017%2C%20a%20record%2066.6,and%20almost%20tripled%20since%201980. or use a smartwatch or fitness tracker.44 So even if you don’t personally have a mental illness, the numbers suggest you probably know a person (or multiple people) who does.

I don’t share these statistics simply to explain how widespread mental illness is in this country. I share them to underscore that something experienced by so many should not be so isolating, should not carry any shame or embarrassment.

According to a 2019 survey released by the American Psychological Association, the general feeling around these issues may be changing—Americans are becoming more open about mental health.55 The survey showed that the vast majority of adults believe that having a mental health disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, and that people who have mental health disorders can get better.

You have probably heard the statistics around mental health and the legal profession—that rates of mental health disorders and addiction are approximately twice as high among lawyers as compared with the general population. That means the opportunities for solidarity and support among lawyers should be greater, too.

This year, in an effort to increase support and awareness of available resources, the WSBA is participating in Well-Being Week in Law from May 3-7. You can read more about it on page 32.

Also in this edition of Bar News: the cover story about the monumental Supreme Court decision in Martinez-Cuevas v. DeRuyter Bros. Dairy (page 36); Mark Fucile’s Ethics & the Law column on closing your law practice when you retire (page 16); a Write to Counsel column on deep issue statements (page 20), and more.

About the author

Kirsten Abel is the editor of Washington State Bar News.







Leave a Reply