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The Florida Bar and YLD designate May as health and wellness month

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The Florida Bar is partnering with the Young Lawyers Division to designate the month of May as “Health and Wellness Month” for Florida lawyers. This comes on the heels of a year when the Bar has had an unprecedented level of focus and commitment to health and wellness issues.

The Bar will be promoting content related to the topic all month on every aspect of its social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube using the hashtag #WellLawyer.

Michael Higer Bar President Michael Higer, who established the Special Committee on Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers when he took office, said changing the culture to improve the health and wellness of Florida lawyers will not be achieved overnight.

“It is a process where we must recognize there is a problem, be open about discussing it, and figure out solutions to help members of our profession who are often silently struggling,” Higer said.

The committee has hosted town hall meetings throughout the state — Tallahassee, St. Petersburg, Gainesville, and Palm Beach — dedicated to facilitating discussion among Bar members to find solutions for how to address health and wellness issues.

Dori Foster-Morales “From traveling the state, we have learned a lot,” said Dori Foster-Morales, chair of the committee. “I am thankful for the many individuals who have been open and honest about the stuff they are dealing with. It’s important for attorneys dealing with tough issues to know that they are not alone, and help is available.”

The Florida Bar has dedicated resources to health and wellness on its website at www.floridabar.org/member/healthandwellnesscenter. The YLD has a specific health and wellness page at www.flayld.org/health-wellness-month.

This marks the fourth year in a row the YLD has designated May its “Health and Wellness Month.”

“The YLD and the YLD Law Student Division have been committed to quality of life and health and wellness issues because to us it is personal,” said YLD President Zack Zuroweste. “We must continue to look at our policies and ensure that the Bar is doing everything it can to help and provide resources to those who need it.”

YLD President-elect Christian George said part of the YLD’s goal in focusing on health and wellness is to break the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health.

“We want to help lawyers appreciate that taking active steps to care for their mental health is a positive attribute and a sign of strength,” George said.

Ben Gibson, a member of the special committee and co-chair of the YLD Health and Wellness Committee, said thanks to “outstanding leadership,” The Florida Bar is leading the way on addressing lawyer health and wellness issues.

“Stress is everywhere in life and in the practice of law, and it’s not going away,” Gibson said. “So, for the sake of ourselves and our profession, we must learn how to cope with stress in a healthy way.”

YLD committee Co-Chair Natasha Dorsey said each year since its inception, the YLD has expanded its Health and Wellness Month to cover a broader scope of wellness-related issues, including a focus on mental health and providing resources for young lawyers.

“This year, we are excited to share this initiative with the entire Florida Bar to reach more people and continue the conversation about these critical issues,” Dorsey said.

Here are some activities to look for this month:

Daily Challenges. The Bar will challenge lawyers each day to participate in activities known to provide benefits such as meditation and exercise and making suggestions as to how to integrate these into daily routines.

Affiliate Involvement. The YLD is again encouraging local affiliates to promote health and wellness by offering grants of up to $500 to support those activities. Examples include, but are not limited to, wellness seminars, physical group activities such as paddle boarding, yoga, or other stress-relieving activities.

TakeFive Stress Breaks. Every weekday afternoon this month, The Bar will provide the tools for a quick humor break by sending out, via social media, short and funny video clips.

Wellness Profiles. Throughout the month, the Bar will profile judges and lawyers who are on the road to maintaining a work-life balance and practicing wellness.

Firm Focus. Similarly, The Bar will profile law firms to find out how they help their attorneys practice health and wellness.

Mindfulness Mondays. The Bar is encouraging all members to observe a “mindfulness moment” every Monday this month. Look for helpful videos and articles every Monday to help you practice mindfulness.

Free Lunch-time CLE Webinars. Every Wednesday at noon (EDT) during May, The Bar will be hosting free one-hour CLE-credit webinars focused on health and wellness topics. From personal development to mindfulness to emotional intelligence, you will not want to miss these CLE webinars. Register at flayld.org/health-wellness-month.

Spreading Awareness of Florida Lawyers Assistance. FLA is a confidential resource for law students, attorneys, judges, and support personnel staffed by professionals trained to assist with a wide range of substance abuse and mental health concerns, such as depression (whether situational, periodic, or constant), anxiety, bipolar disorder, and others. FLA can also help attorneys successfully navigate difficult transition periods in their lives (new jobs, divorce, children), or cope with the illness or loss of a loved one. Check out their website at http://fla-lap.org.

Spreading Awareness of Member Benefits. The Bar offers member benefits specifically related to health and wellness.

For more health and wellness resources visit: www.floridabar.org/member/healthandwellnesscenter or flayld.org/health-wellness-month.

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