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Bar Mental Health and Wellness Committee announces expanded services

Senior Editor Top Stories

With the Florida Lawyers Helpline, the emphasis is on ‘help’

The confidential Florida Lawyers Helpline is expanding services offered to Florida lawyers, the Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers Committee reported October 20 during the Bar’s Fall Meeting.

CorpCare, which provides confidential, round-the-clock support as the vendor responsible for operating the Florida Lawyers Helpline (833-351-9355), recently upped the number of free therapy sessions available to Bar members from three to five a year.

More than a traditional hotline, Florida Lawyers Helpline is available 24/7/365 to provide a continuum of services — everything from crisis intervention and referral for free mental-health counseling, nutrition and health information, child-care referrals, 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.

The service is completely confidential and no information about individual clients will ever be shared with employers or The Florida Bar.

Committee Chair Karl Klein challenged his fellow panel members to sign up for the services themselves.

“I urge everyone to call the helpline and sign up for their five sessions,” Klein said. “It’s just as valuable if you don’t need a session with all the services CorpCare offers. They are a gateway to get a lot of our Bar members the help they need.”

Klein also said that the five sessions reset at the beginning of the calendar year so members can sign up for five sessions over the next two months before they reset again in January of 2023.

The committee also discussed the implementation of CorpCare’s new member benefit called BetterHelp that matches Bar members with a licensed therapist based on their own preferences and needs through text, phone calls, or video chats.

The immediacy of BetterHelp makes it much easier for members to receive an appointment in lieu of a local therapist.

“During the pandemic, we found that there were very long wait times for members to access a local in-person therapist,” Klein said. “This new benefit gets our members the help they need faster.”

The committee is currently working with the Bar’s IT department to add a sign-up link for BetterHelp to the Bar’s Member Benefits page.

The committee also reviewed the recent recommendations provided by the Bar’s Program Evaluation Committee, including:

  • Expanding and enhancing the publicity, promotion, and outreach of the committee
  • Formalizing a relationship with the Young Lawyers Division and Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc.
  • Addressing the limited utilization of the Florida Lawyers Helpline
  • Staggering the terms of committee members
  • Creating and seeking funding for an appropriate budget

The Program Evaluation Committee review found that only 264 lawyers used the Florida Lawyers Helpline between May 20, 2020, and August 31, 2021.

“The need for our committee to promote the helpline is important, and we’ve been tasked with making that happen,” Klein said.

Committee member Arielle Capuano said local bars could help with the outreach efforts.

“We need to leverage our relationships with our local bar associations,” Capuano said. “Confidentiality needs to be our most important marketing point.”

While confidentiality is key when it comes to mental health and wellness, Judge Alicia Latimore reminded her colleagues that is already a requirement.

“When you voluntarily seek mental health and wellness, The Florida Bar requires confidentiality,” Judge Latimore said.

The committee will brainstorm further marketing ideas and plans to present those during the Bar’s Winter Meeting in Orlando in January.

Florida Bar President Gary Lesser also hopped on the call and praised the work of this committee.

“This is a very important committee,” Lesser said. “Several years ago, this committee didn’t exist, but now it’s essential to the practice of law in Florida. I thank you all for the work you have done.”

For more information regarding the services offered for the mental health and wellness of Florida lawyers, visit www.floridabar.org/member/healthandwellnesscenter/.

 

 

 

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