We Help Judges
As a judge, you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You are under an immense amount of pressure to make the right decision day after day, trial after trial.
You see trauma at every level of society. Judges are not immune to normal human reactions, feelings and emotions. After a while, this trauma wears you down emotionally.
Usually, you are unable to debrief what you see and hear. Feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression oftentimes settle in and become overwhelming and debilitating.
Mental health is our emotional, psychological and social well-being that affects how we think, feel and act. Mental health determines how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.
As a judge, you may develop mental health problems due to the demanding nature of the profession. You do not have to navigate these issues alone. Help is available and readily accessible.
Some common mental health problems include:
Anger management is the inability to express anger in a healthy way. Chronic, explosive anger has serious consequences for your relationships, your health and your state of mind. Anger oftentimes masks other feelings, such as insecurity and vulnerability.
People with anxiety disorders experience constant, intrusive and unrelenting worry that dominates their thoughts and perceptions. This level of anxiety can interfere with daily responsibilities, job performance and relationships. As a judge, you may have anxiety to make the right ruling in court day in and day out and to uphold your status and reputation in the community.
Depression & Suicide
We all feel sad from time to time, but clinical depression is an illness that greatly impacts one’s quality of life.
Judges see trauma almost daily. You may also feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to or confide in. You may believe you are on your own island, which attributes to feelings of sadness, loneliness and eventually depression. If depression progresses far enough, you may have suicidal thoughts or event attempt to take your own life to escape the emptiness you feel.
Stress & Burnout
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress and anxiety. Burnout occurs when one feels overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands.
As stress heightens for you as a judge from dealing with high stake issues and working long hours, you may lose focus of your hobbies and interests outside the profession, eventually losing all motivation that led you to become a judge in the first place.
Addiction is a complex disease affecting the functioning of the brain and body. Studies suggest people diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely as the general population to also suffer from a substance use disorder.
When we think of addiction, we usually think of drugs and alcohol. However, it also refers to compulsive behaviors like gambling, sex, eating and spending money. A process addiction follows a destructive path. When left untreated, it will impact a judge’s ability to practice law. Process addictions are often coupled with mental health issues such as anxiety.
Drug or alcohol abuse is defined by having two or three symptoms of addiction. Many people experience alcohol or drug abuse problems but are able to stop using or change their patterns without progressing to addiction. The most severe form of substance abuse is addiction: a physical, chronic disease that typically requires long-term treatment. Types of addiction include: Nicotine, alcohol, illegal drugs and prescription drugs.
To mask the feelings of stress, anxiety and depression you feel as a judge, you may turn to drugs and alcohol. If left untreated, drug and alcohol addiction can have catastrophic effects not only for you but your loved ones as well.
Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. It is more than being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of change and growth.
Compassion fatigue is the cumulative physical, emotional and psychological effects of continual exposure to traumatic or distressing events when working in a helping capacity. Exposure to client distress and trauma is one of the largest factors of compassion fatigue. Judges, especially district court judges, who practice criminal law, family law, personal injury law, workers comp law and medical malpractice law are at risk for compassion fatigue.
Grief & Loss
Grief is a natural response to loss. Grief can also be a normal response to change because change in life brings loss in some form, whether big or small. Grief usually throws us off balance and into chaos. Unfortunately, the world does not stop to allow us adequate time to grieve. We have to continue on life’s path while simultaneously grieving. The good news is that you are not alone. Everyone suffers loss. Grief counseling can help.
You probably went into law and wanted to be a judge because you wanted to make your community a better place. You wanted to serve justice to those who deserve it. What can happen over time is that you may over identify with the “rescuer” role. This role then bleeds into other areas of your life. You begin to place such a low emphasis on your needs and wants and only focus on the needs of others around you. You may even feel guilty when you do want to do something for yourself.
“Aging of the Bar”
Today, we see a lot of older judges working late into their life. Unfortunately, at a certain age, cognitive issues may start to develop, and decision making may start to decline. Confusion, personality changes, withdrawal and memory changes can all have a negative impact on practicing law at a later age. Our program can help you transition out of the profession.
The early signs of dementia are very subtle and may not be immediately obvious. Early symptoms also vary. Usually, people first seem to notice that there is a problem with memory, particularly in remembering recent events.
- Apathy and withdrawal
- Loss of ability to do everyday tasks
- Personality change
Sometimes, people fail to recognize these symptoms indicate that something is wrong. They may mistakenly assume that such behavior is a normal part of the ageing process. Symptoms may develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time.
Click here for a checklist of common dementia symptoms. If there are several that you answer “yes” to, a doctor should be consulted for a complete examination.
Below is a self test to help determine if you are suffering from any of the above mentioned afflictions. If you answer yes to any of these symptoms, we can help you regain your sense of hope.
Stress & Anxiety
Have you suffered with two or more continuous weeks of:
- Feeling anxious, frustrated, and/or irritable
- Feeling on edge
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Difficulty sleeping
- Fatigue, headaches, and/or muscle aches
- Lowered productivity and/or performance
- Catastrophic thinking
Have you suffered with two or more continuous weeks of:
- Feeling sad, lonely, despair, and/or hopeless
- Experiencing over/under reaction to events
- Having problems concentrating/remembering
- Experiencing difficulty in making decisions
- Changes in appetite and/or weight
- Experiencing insomnia and/or wanting to sleep all the time
- Experiencing the loss of enjoyment from activities you once enjoyed
- Feeling unmotivated, apathetic, and/or bored
Alcohol & Drugs
- Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking and/or drug use?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking and/or drug use?
- Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking and/or drug use?
- Have you ever had a drink or other drug to steady your nerves and/or to get rid of a hangover?
- Have you ever broken a promise to reduce your drinking and/or drug use or to quit altogether?
- Has drinking and/or the use of other drugs interfered with your work, relationships, and/or other commitments?
- Have you ever lied to cover up your drinking and/or drug use?
- Are you drinking and/or using drugs during the work day?
- Are you coming to work after a long night of drinking and/or using drugs and counting the hours until the end of the work day to have a drink and/or use drugs again?
- Have you ever had trouble sleeping because of gambling?
- Are you reluctant to use “gambling” money to pay bills?
- Do you ever gamble longer and/or spend more money than planned?
- Have you had to sell things to finance your gambling?
- After a win, do you have a strong urge to return and win some more?
- Has gambling adversely affected your relationships, reputation, and/or career?
- Do you ever gamble to get money to pay debts?
- Do arguments, frustrations, and/or disappointments create an urge to gamble?
- Have you ever borrowed client’s monies to cover your gambling debt or to finance your gambling?
Please remember you are not alone. Many judges experience burnout, depression, compassion fatigue and substance abuse.
How We Can Help
We understand you hold a visible, public position and may fear asking for help because of the negative impact it may have on your status and reputation. Our services are 100% confidential and non disciplinary, as well as free.