The research also indicates that those working in law are the highest users and abusers of alcohol and nicotine, as reported by AFR Weekend.
The PsychSafe study looked at more than 800 professionals, including 370 lawyers from firms and the bar, and 170 lawyers who work in government or in-house counsel.
The findings suggest that lawyers who work in law firms have the lowest psychological and psychosomatic health and well-being. Researchers say this is likely attributed to stressful workloads, overtime, and pressure.
The study also found that lawyers were twice as likely to use and abuse substances, compared to other professionals.
Alcohol abuse is a pattern that can cause harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, and the ability to work, according to the CDC. Long-term alcohol abuse can turn into alcohol dependence.
Lead author Dr. Michalak says that most firms are focuses on mindfulness strategies to help employees, rather then prevention strategies.
“From a risk perspective, it’s after the fact - much like relying on a fire blanket, rather than preventing the fire in the first place,” Dr. Michalak told AFR. “We seriously need to step away from the resilience cookie jar and move towards primary prevention strategies to address causes of poor mental health and wellbeing, which include work environment factors.”
Lawyers were also more likely to experience unhealthy behaviors in the workplace including verbal abuse, mistreatment, bullying, competition, and sexual harassment, according to the study.
Researchers say the main perpetrators of those creating toxic environments were men in powerful positions who were likely to target those beneath them or female employees.
Unfortunately, the report found that most mistreatment among employees went unreported and when it did get reported accusers were likely to face negative consequences.
“We need to acknowledge we are human beings before we are lawyers,” McCabe Lawyers principal Terry McCabe told AFR. “If we don’t, we are going to continue to lose good people from the profession.”
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