The Power of Peers
Connection is the key. Peer assistance has been shown to be a powerful tool in improving wellness and outcomes in community mental health and addiction support programs including in mental health and veterans’ centers. When Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in the 1930s, it adopted a “we” approach to recovery. Over time, peer support has been recognized a key component in the many dimensions of personal wellness and this emphasis has only grown in recent years.
VJLAP utilizes volunteers throughout our program. Whether you are dealing with stress, addiction, or mental health concerns, a mentor volunteer who has been where you are can be an important part of your path to well-being. These legal professionals have been and are engaged in personal recovery from addiction or mental health issues. They can help you to understand that you are not alone in dealing with these issues and can be positive supports on your road to coping with these conditions. It is also inspiring to know that others have confronted their problems and have been able to overcome the obstacles with which you are currently struggling.
Talking about our experiences helps others and removes stigma from issues we face and gives others hope. If our colleagues are talking to us about their struggles with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, grief, trauma, or addictions, these issues are no longer faceless and secretive. Through this organic process, these concerns are brought into the light to make them easier to confront and treat.
There are many resources for legal professionals on the ABA website. One is The Lawyers Depression Project (https://www.lawyersdepressionproject.org/). That is an online peer support program. VJLAP also hosts wellness, women’s wellness, and 12-Step peer support groups (https://vjlap.org/events/).
You will be seeing several different stories from legal professionals this week sharing their experiences with mental health and addiction. These are real people, just like you. If you recognize yourself in any of your peers who are sharing, please reach out to us. We will listen to you, support you, and help you to find and connect to the resources that will set you on your path to recovery.
** The contents of this article are not intended for the purpose of diagnostic or medical/psychological care. Consultation with a medical or mental health professional is recommended if you are concerned about your well-being.