Lawyers suffered from mental health issues due to the work pressure as well as the pandemic.
Kolkata: Adhip Ghosh, a young lawyer, like many stayed miles away from his family in Kolkata when the first nationwide lockdown was announced in March 2020. He was locked away inside his apartment in Delhi with two of his friends. While he managed to work about 14 hours a day, Adhip also struggled with anxiety which made it hard for him to concentrate on work.
“It has become very difficult for individual practitioners to cope up with the current situation. Due to this lockdown, lawyers are unable to build good contacts and hence, they are getting fewer clients.” He added, “Most advocates, who are individual practitioners, are suffering from monetary loss due to the shutdown of courts, and as a result, their mental health is also getting affected.”
There hasn’t been much discussion about the mental health of lawyers in India. That is why the ‘Lawyer Well-Being Week’ (May 3rd– May 9th) has been organized to initiate more conversations on mental health issues faced by lawyers.
Pathik Choudhary, an advocate based in Delhi, has been working from home since April 19 2020. “Remote working took a toll on many people including me when it was first implemented last year after the nationwide lockdown was imposed.”
He continued, “For people like me, who are accustomed to the conventional office or court life, this shift to remote work was mentally exhausting especially during the initial few months.
The lockdown increased both the workload and subsequent distractions. Similarly, it reduced communications between co-workers and led to less job satisfaction. As a result, our productivity took a hit.”
Ayushi Dixit, an advocate, was constantly anxious while working away from her home in the pandemic. “Being around my family is calming, and I make sure to seize opportunities to share lightness and humor. I think that striking a balance plays a very important role while working from home, and we all should create a period where we can be screen-free.” While talking about the mental health of the lawyers, she said, “I think the same about major amendments that are required in the laws concerned, as most of the laws in India for taking care of people suffering from mental disorders in India are archaic and need to be updated.”
Dr Raguram, a retired professor of psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, NIMHANS, and a senior consultant psychiatrist said, “For the lawyers, the best way to seek help during this time is through online helplines. There are many helplines which have been created for providing mental support to people. They need to reach out to them,” said Dr Raguram.