Law grad tackles mental illness with legal self-help guide

by Samantha Woodhill01 Oct 2015
Jerome Doraisamy will officially launch his practical self-help guide for lawyers.

The Wellness Doctrine, launched at an event in Sydney this week, aims to arm young lawyers and law students with the tools to take control over their mental health and wellbeing.

Like a staggering one in three legal professionals, Doraisamy experienced a debilitating spout of depression as a young lawyer.  Good habits, like those outlined in his book he said should be established right from the start of any legal career or law degree.

“It’s much harder to respond to a situation once you’re already unwell, whereas if you’re putting in good steps right from the get go then you have a much better chance of staying on top of things,” he told NZLawyer

“One of the ideas I’m trying to promote is the idea of being proactive about your health and wellbeing rather than reactive.”

The legal profession is at particular risk of mental illness, said Doraisamy.  He said that personality traits that come with wanting to be a lawyer, like a competitive and perfectionist nature make lawyers particularly susceptible. 

The book is the result of interviews with almost 50 legal professionals about their experiences and discusses different strategies for dealing with mental health issues.

“I want to inspire the reader to be able to take control of their own situation, take the responsibility for their response and find out what best works for them,” said Doraisamy.

“It has been and continues to be an attempt to make sure that no lawyer or law student has to experience what I experienced.”

Doraisamy said stigmas about mental illness still plague the industry, and that the vast majority of professionals suffering from a mental illness would rather do so in silence.

“I think the stigma surrounding professionals within the legal industry is still incredibly unhelpful and even though there has been quite a big push in the last couple of years to raise awareness of the problems with depression, I think that stigma still exists,” he said.

“Hopefully the tools that the reader will be equipped with can be useful in helping friends, classmates or colleagues around them who might be struggling.”

10 per cent of proceeds from The Wellness Doctrine will be donated to the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation.

 

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