FLORIDA BAR FAST-TRACKS LAUNCH OF LAWYERS HELPLINE TO COMBAT STRESSORS CAUSED BY COVID-19
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Bar is providing a new member benefit and moving up the launch by two months to help lawyers deal with the stresses caused by the global pandemic.
The confidential Florida Lawyers Helpline will go live on May 1 as a 24/7 free service benefiting Bar members who are feeling overwhelmed. It will be provided through an agreement with CorpCare Associates, Inc., which has more than 200 professional counselors across Florida and 11,000 nationwide. CorpCare also serves members of the state bars in Georgia, Maryland, and South Carolina.
This accelerated time frame will enable Florida lawyers to speak with professional counselors about marriage and family issues, medical and stress issues, and substance abuse problems.
“It is clear that our members, like all of society, are facing an epic moment of collective crisis,” said Florida Bar President-elect Dori Foster-Morales, who has been a leader in efforts to improve the mental health and wellness of Florida lawyers. “We are here to serve our members in whatever way we can, and we hope that activating this new Helpline quickly will provide the assistance lawyers need when so much of our lives has been turned upside down.”
With a phone call, the Helpline will connect Florida Bar members with professional counselors who can provide strategies for dealing with challenges and professional pressures. The Helpline can refer Bar members for up to three free sessions a year with a licensed mental-health professional via phone or virtual video service to ensure members’ physical well-being with appropriate social distancing. Calls to the Helpline are unlimited; the in-person sessions will be offered as an option when offices are cleared to reopen.
The Helpline’s professional counselors can also assist with other situations Bar members might face during or after the pandemic – such as providing a case manager to help find long-term care facilities for family members or financial consulting to help members with debt management, budgeting and retirement planning.
Mental-health professionals are seeing heightened levels of anxiety, depression and loneliness during the pandemic. Studies by the American Bar Association have shown that those practicing law experience higher risks for depression and substance abuse than the general population, making members of The Florida Bar even more susceptible to potential problems brought on during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Florida Bar President John Stewart praised Foster-Morales for her foresight and advocacy for this needed member service and other Bar leaders for agreeing to start it on May 1 instead of July 1. “Many of our members were already dealing with stressors, and now those are amplified. Now is when the need for professional counseling is the greatest,” he said.
Florida Bar members may reach the Helpline starting May 1 by calling 1-833-FL1-WELL (1-833-351-9355).
About The Florida Bar
Founded in 1949, The Florida Bar serves the legal profession for the protection and benefit of both the public and all Florida lawyers. As one of the nation’s largest mandatory bars, The Florida Bar fosters and upholds a high standard of integrity and competence within Florida’s legal profession as an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court. To learn more, visit FloridaBar.org.