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Lawyers as a Community Must Promote Mental Health: Dr. Vikram Patel [Video]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
3 Aug 2020 6:34 AM GMT
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The webinar titled 'Depression and other Psychological Issues Among Lawyers' was organised by Livelaw where it hosted Dr. Vikram Patel. Dr. Vikram Patel is the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is the recipient of many recognitions and was prompt in accepting the invitation to speak at the Webinar....

The webinar titled 'Depression and other Psychological Issues Among Lawyers' was organised by Livelaw where it hosted Dr. Vikram Patel. Dr. Vikram Patel is the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is the recipient of many recognitions and was prompt in accepting the invitation to speak at the Webinar. The webinar was moderated by Mr. Prashanto Sen, Sr. Adv., Mr. Ranvir Singh, Advocate and Mr. Pallav Mongia, Advocate on Record.

The webinar started with the introduction by Mr. Prashanto Sen, Sr. Adv. He briefly explained the need for such discussions in today's difficult times. 

He said that there is complete uncertainty in everything around us. Our profession is inherently competitive. Structures in the legal system generate anxiety. Financial insecurites, inequality of opportunity, nepotism etc add to the same. Insecurities generated by our profession are exacerbated by the prevailing times. The recent suicides by lawyers is a grave warning signal which makes it imperative to determine how to respond. Then he invited Dr. Bikram to share his knowledge and guide us on how to deal with the present situation.


Dr. Bikram began by explaining the science behind mental health and by underlining its importance. He explained that what we are and our identity is defined by our mental health. It is central to our capabilities.

At the root of anxiety is uncertainty. While for a caveman, it helped him prepare against the prevailing dangers; today it poses an immense health risk. After discussing the impact of this pandemic on our thoughts, he moved on to suggest solutions.

He advised that our remedies lie all around us. Lawyers as a community must promote mental health. Ability to talk about mental health is a part of the solution. Tele-counselling services must be taken resort which allow psychological interventions and counselling sessions which do not require any medicines. 

He also gave an example of NGO Sangath which is headquartered in Goa. This also led to a pointed question by Mr. Ranvir Singh, Advocate if there can be a tie up with the Bar Association to which he responded that the same can be duly explored.

Dr. Patel went on to to give practical advice on how to know when one needs help. He mentioned that typical signs and symptoms include feeling irritable, constantly fearful about future, unable to enjoy the things which you usually do, unable to concentrate, feeling disinterested, unable to rest peacefully, unable to sleep etc. 

One solution is always to talk to someone. The slogan should be "Its ok to talk". And if someone talks, listen. Listening and caring for others is always helpful to both the speaker and the listener. Healthy relationships are the single most important way to deal with mental health issues. One must find ways to insulate yourself from uncertainty and one simple way to deal with it to engage in habits. Meditation definitely helps. 

Dr. Patel then went on take questions which was entirely moderated by Mr. Ranvir Singh, Advocate. The session ended with a vote of thanks by Mr. Pallav Mongia who thanked Dr Patel for giving practical solutions and insights in dealing with these problems at home and what changes are required at institutional and peer level to help lawyers deal with such problems.

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