Maintaining the utmost confidentiality

Because of the sensitive nature of personal mental health or substance abuse issues, a judge in need may be reluctant to seek help.  To foster early and confidential assistance, the New Hampshire Supreme Court assured confidentiality by adoption of Sup.Ct. 58.8.  www.courts.state.nh.us/rules/scr/scr-58_8.htm

As a New Hampshire judge, you are faced with some of the most difficult and important responsibilities and decisions one can encounter in life as part of your daily job description. When you were appointed to the bench, no one could have prepared you for the cumulative emotional impact that often results from continual exposure to our greatest unresolved social problems. As a judge, you are exposed to trauma at every level of society. Over time, this perpetual exposure can wear anyone out emotionally. We often are of the mistaken belief that legal training somehow inoculates us from normal human reactions to trauma. It does not.

The unrelenting exposure to trauma and demands of this position can sometimes be overwhelming, exacerbate personal issues such as alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and other serious problems. Like all members of the legal profession, judges sometimes face these same problems separate and apart from job-related causes. A judge’s problems and distress, however, are more likely to go unnoticed and untreated for longer because of the very nature of a judge’s role in the legal system.

  • The sheer volume of distressing material judges encounter on a daily basis.
  • Judges work in isolation, unable to debrief distressing material.
  • Colleagues and associates may be hesitant to express concern because judges hold a position of power.
  • Judges may be reluctant to seek help because they hold visible, public positions and the fear that asking for help will negatively impact their status and reputation.

The LAP offers support to judges who are suffering from alcoholism, addiction, depression, anxiety and mental health issues. No matter how large or small the issue, the LAP is here to help.

What does LAP do?

We help judges deal with and recover from a wide range of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, stress and burnout, depression and suicide, anger management, trauma, compassion fatigue and secondary trauma (from perpetual exposure in the court room to trauma), substance abuse, life balance, process addictions (like food, gambling or sex), and grief and loss.

Judges are not unique

Millions of Americans suffer from depression, anxiety and other health problems.  Millions more struggle with alcohol and other drug dependency. Among them are judges who, like anyone else, may find their careers and family lives jeopardized as  personal difficulties intensify.  People in all walks of life tend to deny their symptoms.  This is especially so for judges, who are decision makers and order-givers. Asking for help is never easy, and is made more difficult by the position of respect and to some extent reverence that a judge occupies, and the added pressure not to fail.  By not reaching out for help, a judge may jeopardize so much that is meaningful in life.

Help starts with one phone call

When you are struggling, or when you know a member of the bench may be having trouble, your call to NHLAP can facilitate the help needed to make a positive difference.  We will assist you, your colleague, friend or loved one in getting whatever help may be needed.

Please don’t delay in calling while you are trying to decide if things are bad enough.  There is no down side to making the call; all contact is confidential.  You are not alone.  Once you make the call, you have taken the first step.


Resources for Judges:

Judges and Stress v2: Courtesy of Judges Concerned for Judges, Pennsylvania

Judicial-Burnout: Reprinted with permission of Missouri Bar Bulletin

Bar-News: Judges and Compassion Fatigue: What is it and what to do about it. Reprinted with permission of Missouri Bar

Judges and Compassion Fatigue Handout  Reprinted with permission of Missouri Lawyers Assistance Program