We have compiled many of the frequently asked questions about Uncommon Counsel.
What is Uncommon Counsel?
The Dave Nee Foundation’s innovative and unique program, Uncommon Counsel, fights depression and works to prevent suicide in the legal profession. Uncommon Counsel educates law students/lawyers about depression, its prevalence in the legal profession, and the availability and effectiveness of treatment. By partnering with law schools/firms, we determine the best ways to address students/employees about this important topic.
What are the benefits to students when they attend an Uncommon Counsel presentation?
Not only will students become aware of mental health issues in the field of law, but they will also learn wellness practices. They will also be taught how to recognize signs and symptoms of depression, warning signs of suicide, and how to appropriately intervene when they are concerned about someone. In fact, 95 percent of our 2013-14 attendees reported that they can recognize warning signs of suicide and 97 percent reported knowing what steps to take if they identified a student at risk for suicide.
Why is it important to raise awareness for students’ about these issues?
The statistics indicate the prevalence of mental illness especially within the legal profession. We want students to be aware of the statistics and become pro-active in preventing depression and suicide by learning, practicing, and incorporating wellness practices now as law students that they can take with them into practice.
What do you talk about at an Uncommon Counsel presentation?
Typically a member of the Dave Nee Foundation will address the audience about the following: the story of Dave, statistics about wellness in the legal profession, stress management tactics, recognizing symptoms of clinical depression, anxiety, and suicide indicators, intervention strategies, and resources for seeking help about these issues. At the end of each presentation there is always an opportunity for audience members to ask questions. At the end of each presentation, we ask attendees to complete a very short feedback form about the presentation.
I am worried that not many people will attend, what do you suggest?
We have found that food is often an incentive that increases attendance. We also found that personal invitation or encouragement to attend from a dean, professor, friend, or supervisor increases attendance. Scheduling the presentation during a time that is convenient such as lunchtime also helps.
Have you given presentations at other law schools?
Yes. In the 2012-13 school year, we visited 19 schools and in the 2013-2014 school year, we visited 35 schools. We have visited law schools of various ranks; rank is not important to us, spreading our message to as many law students as possible is our primary goal.
Do you provide counseling services?
We connect law students and lawyers with available mental health and substance abuse resources and treatment options; however, we do not provide direct clinical counseling services.
What resources do you suggest for law students or lawyers who want to know more about mental health or about options available for treatment?
LawLifeline (http://www.lawlifeline.org/) is an anonymous, confidential online resource that provides general information regarding mental health issues as well as specific resources and services available to students in their communities. LawLifeline also offers an online diagnostic screening tool for students to use to determine whether they or their friends are experiencing symptoms of a mental health disease or disorder.
The website for the commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs is another comprehensive website that we recommend that law students and lawyers use for assistance with treatment options (often free of charge or offered at a reduced fee.) http://www.americanbar.org/groups/lawyer_assistance.html