How are you, really?

Man looking out the window

With the new year comes a barrage of advertisements for gym memberships, diets, and other tips and tricks for improving your physical health—or at least the appearance of physical health. But there’s so much more to health than a daily step count. And messaging that promotes a healthy body as the sole pathway to well-being leaves out a key piece of the puzzle: a healthy mind. 


Mental health issues are notoriously prevalent among the legal profession. With heavy workloads, long hours, and high levels of student debt, it’s hard to imagine a lawyer who isn’t stressed out. But accepting that stress comes with the territory doesn’t solve the problem—in the same way that normalizing burnout doesn’t make it any less potent. 

Recent data shows that 29% of Canadian lawyers suffer from major depressive disorder, 37% from generalized anxiety disorder, and 24% claim to have had suicidal thoughts since starting their practice.1 While these statistics are alarming, the good news is that increased awareness is driving new solutions.

Here are three tips to help you prioritize your mental health in a profession that often tests your limits:

1. Know the warning signs

Everybody has the occasional bad day, but what we’re talking about is something much more serious and prolonged. Become familiar with what “normal” means to you. When you know your own baseline, you’ll be more likely to recognize when a run of bad days risks turning into long-lasting psychological distress. 

Our advice. Check in with yourself daily. Most of us don’t take the time to truly experience our emotions, especially the difficult ones. It might seem counter-intuitive to focus more and not less on stress, disappointment, or fear, but ignoring these things doesn’t make them go away. Take a moment to ask yourself how you’re really feeling. What’s bothering you in your life right now? And if you’re having difficulties, are there specific situations that are triggering stress? 

 2. Rebuild your well-being, one night at a time 

We’d love to tell you there’s a magic solution, but maintaining your mental health is complicated, especially within a culture that might not see it as a priority. One thing’s for sure though, there are some simple fixes that can get you started on the right track. And the first one’s so easy you can literally do it in your sleep.

Our advice. It’s been proven that lack of sleep has a detrimental impact on our general health and can be a trigger for burnout. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that people under 65 get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day, and 7 to 8 hours for those 65 and older.2 Prioritize rest and don’t sleep on this simple solution for better mental health and peace of mind.  

3. Seek help before you need it

One of the reasons for the high rate of psychological distress among lawyers is the stigma surrounding the idea of getting help. When burnout becomes normalized, it’s also normal to fear that admitting you need help will be perceived as a sign of weakness—of not being up to the task. But let’s be clear. Seeking help when we need it is a brave and powerful action we can all take pride in.

Our advice. You don’t have to be in crisis to consult a mental health professional. In fact, talking to someone when things are going well allows you to develop awareness and tools that will help you recognize and overcome more difficult situations you may encounter later. 

The CBA maintains a list of resources to support all members of Canada’s legal community, including assistance programs in every province that offer free, confidential counselling for personal and professional issues. 


In the same way that mental and physical health go hand in hand, your financial health is an important part of the equation. 

Money can be a significant stressor—and we know that debt, financial obligations, and financial fears aren’t easy to talk about. That’s why CBIA/Lawyers Financial is proud to support your well-being by offering free financial planning to every member of Canada’s legal community. 

Book a free financial planning meeting now


Written by Andréa Pelletier, copywiter at Larouche, a communication agency in Quebec City. 
This blog has been adapted from the original French version.

Sources: 1.  University of Sherbrooke, “National Study on the Psychological Health Determinants of Legal Professionals in Canada,” 2022. 2. Index Sante, “Les consequences d’un manque de sommeil sur la sante,” 2022.