National Stress Awareness: Recognizing the Impact of Stress & the Law

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and today is reserved as National Stress Awareness Day. (Coincidence that it’s the day after Tax Day?!) Today and the month of April more broadly are intended to draw attention to the level of stress you are experiencing in your life and also to what you can do to manage it.

Right now, I’m feeling extreme stress due to a change in staffing, a new venture launching in June, and several high-stakes cases. Literally, your problems become my problems when you hire us to help! Lawyers as a profession often experience higher levels of mental health issues – and many of us, like so many of our clients, also self-medicate, leading to higher levels of drug and alcohol abuse as a profession.

So, this week’s blog is about how to combat stress, and is just as much for me as it is for you, dear reader!  Read on for more information about how stress can affect you–in and out of court–and what you can do to combat it.

Impacts of Stress

According to the Stress in America survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress within the past month, and almost half reported that their stress increased in the past year. This high degree of stress has many negative effects on people:

  • 45% of those surveyed reported that they had sleep problems attributed to stress
  • 36% said they experienced feelings of nervousness or anxiousness
  • 35% reported feeling angry as a result of their increased stress

Headaches, stomach aches, digestive problems, reproductive problems, and changes to your heart rate and blood pressure are only a few of the symptoms linked to stress. Depression is also linked to stress, which the World Health Organization categories as the leading cause of disability worldwide. Workplace stress alone accounts for $190 billion in U.S. annual healthcare costs.

The Stress of the Criminal Justice System

It is vital for your personal health, and therefore everything else in your life, to effectively manage stress, but this can be an incredibly difficult thing to do when facing criminal charges.

Let’s be honest: being charged with a crime is inherently stressful. You worry about your freedom and your family. You also may suffer job loss, financial problems, and other concerns. Many people turn to drugs and alcohol when they are facing stressful situations, as a means of coping. They may try to dull the pain but then might face an even more stressful situation because of criminal charges that result from DUIs and related issues.

As a criminal defense attorney, I am constantly dealing with clients in various states of stress. In order to do my job effectively, it’s important to be familiar with this dynamic and provide compassionate representation aimed at easing my clients’ emotional burden during this difficult time.

The Stress of Being a Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal defense work isn’t just stressful for clients! As an attorney who cares deeply about my clients, it is often stressful for me to see good people who are in crisis. Their family and freedom is on the line, and I’m the one charged with advocating for them. It’s a lot of pressure day in and day out.

Self-care is critical to protecting my physical and mental health. The same is true for my colleagues, not just in criminal defense, but also those who take divorce and custody cases or high-stakes civil litigation. We need to take care of our stress in order to better serve our clients.

National Stress Awareness Day is a great time to assess our stress level and work together to ease this burden as a community of legal professionals.

Innovative Criminal Defense Strategies that Recognize the Role of Mental Health

My approach to handling many criminal cases is centered on the recognition of the role stress plays in criminal behavior. For DUI clients, where coping with stress and depression through drugs and alcohol is a common strategy, I try to address these underlying issues and help get clients into programs to help with their drinking. When possible, I try to get criminal cases dropped down or dismissed in favor of addressing alcohol or drug problems through treatment.

Stress, depression, and other mental health challenges are also implicated in situations involving domestic violence (DV). I help people charged with DV crimes through a holistic approach that focuses on treatment and growth through options such as participating in couples counseling, family counseling, mental health assessments, behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, or anger management education.

Reduce the anxiety from your criminal case – Let Justie Get Justice for You!

I can’t take away the stress of a criminal charge completely, but I can reduce it by ensuring that your case is handled professionally and with a personal touch.

If you would like to discuss your criminal case, contact Nicol Gersch Law Offices, LLC. Visit https://nicollawoffices.com/contact-justie to schedule a free initial consultation or contact me at justieforjustice@gmail.com.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship. It’s a blog post and not legal advice. Each case is different, and this post is meant for generalized knowledge, only. If you haven’t signed an engagement letter (or even received an engagement letter) AND issued some form of payment (peanuts do not count), then no attorney-client relationship exists. Nevertheless, we will do our best to ensure your confidentiality should you choose to contact us privately, but do not post about your case in the comments here (because reaching out for help with your case should be confidential, damn it).

If you have done both of the things mentioned earlier–signed a letter and paid us–then, and only then, you might be a client. But merely chatting with us online does not a client make. Suffice it to say, if you aren’t absolutely certain about whether or not an attorney-client relationship exists between yourself and NLO, you should probably ask for some clarity. Until then, we’ll keep your secrets but we don’t formally represent you… YET.