The Florida Bar continues to seek to lessen the stigma surrounding mental health issues and offer more support to its members in the future. To bolster these goals, it has been working to develop a partnership with CorpCare Associates, Inc. and their employee assistance program. Hosts Christine Bilbrey and Karla Eckardt welcome George Martin and Lisa Hardy, both of CorpCare, to outline the many services offered through their program and explain how they have worked with other bar associations to provide 24/7 mental health help and extensive support for members.
George W. Martin, Jr., is president and CEO of CorpCare Associates, Inc., a national employee assistance program company.
Lisa Hardy is vice president of clinical operations at CorpCare Associates, Inc.
The Florida Bar Podcast
EAPs and the Bar: Providing Mental Health Services to Attorneys
Intro: Welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast, where we highlight the latest trends in law office and legal practice management to help you run your firm, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Center. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Christine Bilbrey: Welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast brought to you by LegalFuel, the Practice Resource Center of the Florida Bar on Legal Talk Network. We’re so glad you’re joining us. This is Christine Bilbrey. I’m a Senior Practice Management Advisor at the Bar and one of the hosts for today’s show, which is being recorded from our office in Tallahassee, Florida.
Karla Eckardt: Hello. I am Karla Eckardt. I am a Practice Management Advisor at The Florida Bar and co-host of today’s podcast.
Our goal at The Practice Resource Center is to assist Florida attorneys with running the business side of their law practices. We focus on a different topic each month and carry the theme through our website with related tips, videos and articles.
Christine Bilbrey: So in recent years, The Florida Bar has been focusing on health and wellness issues. The driving force behind these efforts have been The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Mental Health & Wellness of Florida lawyers which was established to de-stigmatize mental illness no legal community, raise awareness through education and outreach and find new resources, best practices and member benefits to bring more balance into the lives of our members.
As part of that effort, we have investigated what other State Bar associations are doing for their members and we’re now working to develop a 24/7 365 a year mental health helpline exclusively for Florida Bar members to call, and if needed, receive up to three free in-person therapy sessions with a licensed mental health counselor.
We hope to bring this to our members, run by a company completely outside of the Bar, and we are currently speaking with a company called CorpCare Associates that does this type of work.
Joining us today are George Martin and Lisa Hardy of CorpCare. CorpCare Associates is an Employee Assistance Program service provider, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia with coverage throughout the US, Canada, and the Caribbean.
George Martin is President and CEO of CorpCare Associates, Inc. Since 1986, George has conducted EAP services for a variety of corporations, hospitals, manufacturers and law enforcement agencies. He serves on the Employee Assistance Society of North America currently as President of the Board and is a member of the Employee Assistance Professional Association.
Lisa Hardy is Vice President of Clinical Operations at CorpCare. Lisa has over 35 years of experience in mental health, substance abuse and human resources. She has been with CorpCare EAP since 2000 where she oversees all aspects of the program delivery systems and quality control.
As a certified leadership coach, Lisa is a recognized international speaker on leadership development, corporate team building, resiliency and emotional health, employee wellness, substance abuse and addiction workplace issues and anti-bullying.
Welcome to the show, George and Lisa.
George W. Martin, Jr.: Thank You Christine and Karla.
Lisa Hardy: Thank you.
Christine Bilbrey: So, George, I want to start with you. Tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and how you came to do the work that you do at CorpCare?
George W. Martin, Jr.: Well, my background is, it goes back to a day when I was a private practitioner in marriage and family therapy and was introduced to the Employee Assistance Program profession in the mid-80s and started working in a hospital setting to help assist them in their early days of the EAP.
Then, from there, returning from Louisiana to Atlanta worked with a medical doctor to start another company in the area of Employee Assistance and then eventually in 91, started my own company, CorpCare.
Throughout all these years, I have found that the Employee Assistance approach tries to act as a traffic cop, if you will, that tries to help the business world and in the mental health world understand each other’s languages, each other’s different directions to help interpret so that each one can understand the other.
And by doing so, it improves work-related issues at the worksite and improves the lives of the employees or family members. So that has been the overall mission of my own personal career, but especially here at CorpCare.
Christine Bilbrey: And Lisa, share with our listeners about the path that led you to your current work and tell us what you do at CorpCare?
Lisa Hardy: I’ve known since I was a teenager that I would be in some sort of counseling or helping field. So after college began to make my way through various positions at psychiatric hospitals treatment programs and the like in the Atlanta area. I had the opportunity to meet George when we had some clients in common, began to learn about EAP and then in 2000 joined the CorpCare team.
I am responsible for all our clinical programs. I oversee client management, triage those individuals who answer that helpline who are there 24/7 just to work together to make sure certainly that there’s compliance on HIPAA and privacy and confidentiality, but also that we are meeting the needs of the populations that we serve, whether it’s attorneys, manufacturing, hospitality, all those different industries. At the end of the day, wellness is wellness, but the path to get there is different based on individuals.
Karla Eckardt: Thank you so much for sharing that. So I want to take a step back. Christine actually staffs The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Mental Health & Wellness. So she and the Committee have been doing a lot of work in bringing all of this to our members, but a lot of our members are solo small practitioners.
So, again, I want to take a step back and if you could please explain exactly what is an Employee Assistance Program often referred to as an EAP and more specifically what is a Lawyer Assistance Program, an LAP?
Lisa Hardy: An EAP, an Employee Assistance Program is an opportunity to dovetail on what George had said about really bringing the business world and the mental health world kind of together combining our languages, understanding each other. Organizations invest a lot of money in employees and when employees become distracted or impaired by personal problems, by substance abuse issues, by marriage and family just by life, they’re less productive in the workplace.
So, from the eyes of the employer, it’s not only care and compassion for their employees, but it is about productivity. It is about safety and wellness in the workplace and being able to be about their company’s business and it not be brought down or distracted by those personal problems.
If you think about everybody who life is kind of interfered with their production at work if they were all fired, that would not be good for our economy that would not be good for the organization. So the EAP provides an avenue by which we can help that person be better as an individual, as a citizen, and certainly as the productive employee in the workplace.
George W. Martin, Jr.: If I was going to add something to that. It would be that the EAP has actually been around since the 1940s and as it has developed, it’s also seeped into other professions and other called obviously in a legal profession Lawyer Assistance Program, but the core technologies of the EAP and the LAP are the same.
The singular mission, as Lisa was sharing, is to help somebody who’s at a bad place get to a better place, and by doing so as she mentioned, the productivity levels in stabilize and increase hopefully that family life improves and so on. So that’s the commonalities between the two.
Lisa Hardy: But also I think is we turn that corner though and focus on a Lawyer Assistance Program. We also do them want to focus on that in the industry. What are some things that we know about attorneys and some of the things that the pressures and stresses that they have?
You mentioned one, solo practitioner, small firms, there are some unique challenges. So again, at the core it’s the same, but we want to approach it in a way that’s relatable to the attorney.
Christine Bilbrey: Yeah, I’m curious because George mentioned that EAPs have been around since the 40s. When did you or the industry realize that maybe there needed to be something specific for the legal industry? When did the LAP come around?
George W. Martin, Jr.: In Georgia, the Georgia Bar began their program, I want to say, maybe in the 1980s actually or 90s, something like that, and it was actually founded by a key attorney who he himself had some substance abuse issues that he was able to overcome, and in doing so, he realized how his colleagues were unfortunately experiencing many of the same dilemmas.
He then approached the Georgia Bar and was able to get this program launched at that time in a more rudimentary form today in what we provide to the LAP in Georgia for example is and hopefully eventually, Florida that it will be a much more expansive type service than what its early days were.
But I want to say that not knowing the other bars and when they started their programs but they’ve been around since I want to say the least the 1990s.
Karla Eckardt: And you mentioned you currently serve the Georgia Bar what other State Bars do you currently serve?
George W. Martin, Jr.: We had the privilege of serving South Carolina and the Maryland Bars also and for a period of time the Arizona Bar.
Christine Bilbrey: And so how does the EAP work? I mean, so, I feel like an employer could say to an employee that that was a great employee and now they can tell something that’s shifted so maybe they remind the employee that there’s this benefit or the employee knows that they are struggling and so they want to reach out. What happens with CorpCare when that individual calls you up? What are the services that they can be offered?
George W. Martin, Jr.: This is especially in Lisa’s wheelhouse, so Lisa.
Lisa Hardy: Yes, thank you, and one of the greatest gifts that the employer has to give the employee is that level of intervention. An employer is very influential and that employee who’s struggling so that they will go ahead and make that phone call, they will go ahead and make that step, so that’s really important.
First of all, the individual seeking assistance is going to be afforded courtesy, respect and privacy. We adhere to all confidentiality laws, all requirements, we’re accustomed to working with people who may be well-known in their community and who wants some extra steps of protection.
So first and foremost, caring, they’re going to have an ear that will listen to their concerns and they’re going to be talking with somebody who has some answers, who knows how to respond. If they’re in a crisis or any type of emergency, the person they’re talking with is going to know how to respond to that.
If they’re in just a moment of distress and needing some clarification, some support, the person they’re talking to is going to be able to do that. When you’re overwhelmed, distressed, anxious, concerned, those things are going on you don’t always have all the answers or you can’t tap into those resources. You’re going to be talking to that calm, caring professional that’s going to be able to guide you and help you through that process.
Ultimately, connecting with a professional in-person, face-to-face that kind of connection, some counseling for some ongoing concerns to learn some new coping skills, to make some different choices, that’s what they have to look forward to.
Christine Bilbrey: So if necessary the caller will actually be transitioned to seeing a person in their office, so a face-to-face with a therapist. Is that correct?
Lisa Hardy: That’s right, that’s right. So much of communication. Even in this day and age of technology it’s still nonverbal so if we can get that visual that’s generally helpful also there’s a step to saying, okay, now I’m going to stop, I’m going to stop everything else that’s going on around me, all the other emails and phone calls and I’m going to focus on me and this time with the counselor. So there’s real advantage to having some definition and parameters around that.
Karla Eckardt: And as far as a member a lawyer reaching out to CorpCare whether it’s through their individual Bar organization or the firm reaching out to CorpCare for EAP services, what are costs or fees if any for individuals who use CorpCare services?
Lisa Hardy: Under most arrangements then there is no cost to the individual. The way EAPs are designed and even most of the Bar lawyer programs are designed, the cost is absorbed through the organization or employer. So the individual who’s actually calling and seeking the assistance, they will have a limited number or a specific number of calls or sessions that they can have that are at no cost to them.
They don’t have to have their insurance involved. They don’t have to have a co-pay, and it’s one way of overcoming one more barrier because there is stigma around mental health and there are barriers to people getting the help that they need and so anything that we can do through an EAP or an LAP-type program to move as many of those barriers as possible, we want to do that; and so, that’s a way of removing the cost burden from the lawyer.
Christine Bilbrey: And I want to talk about why someone might choose if they already have excellent insurance coverage? Why might they seek out free counseling services that are available through CorpCare? For instance, if a large firm is self-insured, do you know, can the owners of that firm see if an attorney employee of the firm has chosen to see a therapist, is that a consideration for some people?
Lisa Hardy: All information whether it’s through an insurance company, an EAP or an LAP, should be reported in an anonymous aggregate set of data. So, even a self-insured really should not have that specific information. I certainly can’t speak to all insurances and how they might do it, but I can say that with the EAP or the LAP that that extra level of confidentiality and privacy is there and I believe that it is perceived that the LAP is a little more private, a little more removed. I think that’s one of the reasons.
I do still think even with insurances today there are high deductibles and healthy individuals don’t go to the doctor a lot, they’re not going to reach that deductible so there’s an advantage to the no-cost. But it also goes back to that an LAP is believed and I think rightfully so that we’re really focused on attorneys. It’s not that big general insurance. It’s really something a little bit smaller, a little more customized, a little more specialized for the attorney who’s calling.
George W. Martin, Jr.: Let me also add to that I think most of the problems we experience in life don’t require ongoing therapy. So with that in mind often the LAP has enough time provided for the attorney to in confidentiality address the concern with someone who is trained and licensed and so on and be able to sort out where they may at that moment be troubled or confused or whatever.
And that time is enough to help them get redirected to clarify their thoughts to then know how to move on. We’ve seen that as a primary resource and solution when people choose to use the EAP as opposed to insurance-related products.
Lisa Hardy: And if I might also add that’s a great point. When you talk about insurance companies, they tend to deal in diagnosis and if we lived in the ideal world where there was no stigma attached that would be no problem. But the EAP and the LAP, we don’t focus on a diagnosis. We focus on the situation, the circumstance, the challenge that’s before that individual whether it fits into any formal diagnosis. So that’s probably another reason that makes an LAP attractive even when someone has insurance.
Christine Bilbrey: And Lisa, I’m glad you touched on the point of stigma because here at the Florida Bar, this helping attorneys has been a whole path, we’re still figuring out the best way to get them to reach out if they’re struggling. So when The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Mental Health & Wellness of Florida Lawyers was formed, one of the first things they did was they held town halls all around the state and this surprised me, but what we heard from law students and members was that they had or were currently avoiding seeking any kind of mental health treatment because of the questions that were on the Bar Admission Application.
Those questions were subsequently updated after that, and we actually did a whole podcast about it because we’re still trying to get the word out because I think it’s become an urban legend. But so what the Board of Bar Examiners did was they printed right on the exam.
They said that they do not request that applicants disclose counseling to assist with stress or anxiety and each of the questions regarding mental health now starts with, I’m going to quote this “the Board supports applicants seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment and views effective treatment by a licensed professional as enhancing the applicant’s ability to meet the essential eligibility requirements to practice law”.
And I think that some people thought that was a small change, I think it’s a sea change to acknowledge that what — all the statistics we’ve talked about since this whole thing began that there is something going on in the legal profession that makes it more stressful. We keep seeing depressing statistics honestly. But since you have done EAP and LAP, do you find that in general lawyers are more reluctant to seek assistance in their mental health than a non-lawyer? What’s been your experience there?
Lisa Hardy: Christine, I really applaud that language in that verbiage that you just shared, I see it as a huge step with our experience with some of the other bars especially those where maybe we’ve worked directly with law school students. I definitely saw reluctance to seek help for the very reason you’re saying, then what happens when it hits that application? So, kudos, great job to The Florida Bar for that.
I think absolutely, when you are in a profession where you want people to respect you and look up to you and depend on you as a expert and as the person who’s going to help them, there is still that perception. Well, if I ever admit that I need help, if I ever say, I can’t do this all by myself, that somehow that is a vulnerability. So I do think without question, there is pressure on attorneys to keep the public persona not fake but the perception that the public needs, and so, I think that that has definitely interfered and anything that CorpCare can do in our daily work and in others that we come across, the more we can speak up and remove that stigma we’re all going to be better for it.
George W. Martin, Jr.: If I can add to Lisa’s comment, and that’s well said, whenever I have conducted talks on stress management and so on to whatever groups, I’ve always somewhere added comment that all of us have something. I mean, there’s as obviously human beings, we are — and yet to be perfected then we have to understand that we are fallible creatures and so we’re going to have those kinds of moments when we are less than our perfect selves, if you will.
And with that in mind then if we all recognize that we all have something then there is hopefully the realization that we’re in good company that we sometimes we need to get us somebody to try and help redirect our confusion.
Karla Eckardt: So while we’re on the topic of the stigma associated with mental health treatment especially for lawyers, the flip side is, it’s perfectly normal for people to say they’re going to see a medical doctor regularly that they don’t even bat an eyelash at disclosing that, but again, the stigma associated with seeking mental health professional is so much higher. So how can you assure someone who uses the services of CorpCare that everything is kept completely confidential and with regard to lawyers, everything is kept completely confidential from the Bar?
George W. Martin, Jr.: Karla, I tell you, let me take the first stab at an answer. I think our society is still getting over some of the old images that resulted from the sanatoriums of decades past, and that sense of if you admit that you have a mental health issue then you must be a crazy person and that is so far from the truth obviously.
We do not really work with crazy people in the Employee Assistance Program or LAP field, we work with people who are struggling with some kind of concern in their life and some kind of problem and if we started in 1991 and as I mentioned, the EAP profession has been around since the 40s.
If there was ever a time when we or the profession as a whole breached confidentiality compromise that key cornerstone of our success, then we would not be in business. The profession would not be alive today as it is. It would not serve 95% of corporations, if you will, throughout the United States and spreading worldwide. So this one issue about confidentiality is as I mentioned the keystone to our services.
Lisa Hardy: Absolutely, I think CorpCare’s history speaks for itself. We wouldn’t continue to be in business. One organization or State Bar wouldn’t want to recommend us to another if there were any breaches or jeopardy around that. That bridges the gap organizationally. It is our responsibility every day to act in a way that reassures all our clients but particularly lawyers that that their confidence is well-placed.
George W. Martin, Jr.: And let me add to this because it’s such an important issue to us. We have to follow the same mandate related to confidentiality as the medical profession and the legal profession. So there’s nothing in the EAP world, if you will, that says, oh, it’s okay to breach confidentiality for no reason at all, of course not, so I hope that’s helpful.
Christine Bilbrey: Okay, absolutely. So we’ve been talking about lawyers and mental health and people have all kinds of stresses that are completely unrelated to their job that they bring to work with them.
Karla Eckardt: Life.
Christine Bilbrey: Yeah, everyone is experiencing life. So can you tell us a little bit about the importance of offering work-life programs like because people have elderly parents, people are trying to get childcare for their children or all those other things that pull on you at home, is that something that an EAP can help you with?
Lisa Hardy: Absolutely, and if I might just share a quick story my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s back in the 1990s, and I remember to this day when we had to tell him that he could no longer drive. I can still have the visual picture of his face that is still with me because I didn’t have an elder care case manager. I didn’t know that there was someone out there that could have coached our family and kind of helped us navigate those challenging waters.
And so aging parents is a big thing. We talk about a sandwich generation, those working professionals who are caring for their own young children who are coming up as well as aging parents. We know that as a society we don’t tend to stay in the same geographic area like might have been true 40-50 years ago.
So those things all lend themselves to how do you deal with families, how do you deal with blended families, and families spread out over the country? And so having an elder care case management, having childcare resources; again, I’m sure there are plenty of parents that have said how in this day and age do I have a child and go back to work promptly? Who’s going to care for my child? How do I know what a good daycare center is? And through EAP and LAP, we have the opportunity to come alongside the attorneys and say, here, this is something we’re going to give you an individual who knows specifically, how do you pick facilities, what questions should you be asking? It’s also a time management issue.
If you’re busy carrying your own caseload, you probably don’t have time during the day to make a lot of phone calls to beat some of the bushes to do some of the research. Again, that’s something that the work/life benefit of an LAP or EAP can take off your plate.
Financial, people, all of us, it doesn’t — money problems aren’t about money. It’s not about how much money there is and so helping people budget and plan and have the lifestyle that they want to live and do investments, anything around those financial choices, that’s another benefit, that’s another part of work-life that employees and attorneys can take advantage of.
Karla Eckardt: So, while we’re on the topic of the many stressors that an EAP can help alleviate, do you keep any data or statistics of the most common reasons individuals and maybe more specifically lawyers, I don’t know, why they call the help lines, and if so, what are those reasons, what are the most common reasons people pick up that phone and make that initial call?
Lisa Hardy: I think that George will agree that for as long as I’ve been in EAP as long as he’s been in EAP, we still see the number one reason that people do reach out is relationship-related. It is those marital and other significant relationships that has yet to be surpassed to my knowledge by any other single problem or concern.
Stress is a good catch-all, so it’s also a little more when we talk about stigma, stress is a little more acceptable, has a little less label with it. So we certainly see a lot of people calling in for stress. But I’m pleased to say that through the last several years, through the efforts of collapse all the LAPs kind of working together through various wellness programs such as The Florida Bar is begin to work on, we are seeing people call and say, I am depressed, I am struggling, what is happening for me is more than the blues. So we are seeing stress and anxiety. Depression began to be reasons that people seek assistance.
While it may not top the list people do call us a lot about grief, they’ve had an unexpected loss or they’ve had several losses before they could kind of work their way through one, there was another kind of piling on. So while I think some of the most common reasons that people use the program is important, every reason is important, every communication, I’m just not happy in life, things aren’t going like I thought it would, am I the best parent, all those kinds of things we’re here and happy to assist with.
George W. Martin, Jr.: One of the recent surveys that CoLAP this organization Lisa mentioned just conducted was the 2019 National Judicial Stress and Resilience Survey and that is a very recent information. They received information from over a thousand different law professionals, judges and attorneys and so on law students, and the findings of this I think if you someone’s ever interested in looking into this a little bit more really uncovers the internal challenges and struggles of the attorney. I think it did a great job of identifying some of the career challenges and issues like stress can sabotage their careers.
Christine Bilbrey: I love that you have all these different resources because I would imagine that there are callers that maybe they’re not very in touch with their feelings they just know something is wrong, they just feel it but — and so when they call this magical number I think that one thing could be that that person on the other line helps them maybe inventory parts of their lives and so you kind of are like feeling along to say what is going on with you to help them feel their feelings to unravel this knot that has become so onerous in their life? I think that’s lovely because I think if you’re calling a suicide helpline, they’re not going to help you budget, they’re not going to help you find childcare. So I love that this is — it’s the kind of a one-stop shop.
Karla Eckardt: Yeah. All encompassing, it’s great.
Christine Bilbrey: Yeah. Yeah. And I know you guys go out and speak at the different events and for the other Bar associations, do you have any advice for law firms because one of the things that the committee’s going to be doing going forward is talking about the culture inside the firm that may be contributing to the mental health issues in the legal community.
So what are some important considerations or some advice you have for designing and implementing wellness programs for law firms for their employees?
George W. Martin, Jr.: My first thought is for the law firm to recognize that there may be a problem within the law firm and not to somewhere look past that or ignore it, due to, I don’t know, whatever prestige or whatever factor may pressure the firm itself. So be able to recognize that someone or some of their members are experiencing problems that possibly there’s something that’s integrated into the law firm that’s creating some of this kind of internal pressure, maybe their caseloads are too great, maybe their hours are too many, and more be the pressure of again having to be completely right and mistakes are not allowed.
That is somewhere if there’s a place for the law firm to recognize that as again all of us as humans do make our mistakes to help alleviate those through some progressive solutions as opposed to some kind of regressive punishment.
Lisa Hardy: And if I might add, Karla, I think you made a great point earlier. You talked about how people will sit around and talk about medical details and medical procedures, and it doesn’t matter if they’re sitting around the lunchroom table. And so I think as much as we can encourage law firms to begin to “normalize mental health” and so the more from the top down from department meetings and any specific staff meetings, those type of things, the more that it’s talked about, the more that it’s brought in to day to day conversation, when something makes the news, don’t be afraid to talk about it, when your community is doing some sort of fundraiser or a 5k run to get money for your local suicide prevention encouraging people to participate and contribute to those things, but I do think that what George said was just so important about there being permission, they’re being permission and even people this law firm can seek assistance.
George W. Martin, Jr.: Let me also just add that there was the occasion when a law firm requested our assistance because unfortunately one of their partners committed suicide. And it actually suggests through everybody in the firm upside-down they just didn’t expect this. The firm’s wanted to take a more proactive response to that and so they gathered their entire firm into a room one evening and asked us and some represents from the LAP Committee and our own selves to come in and say something about suicide, some of the kind of concerns and some of the vulnerabilities and some of the kinds of things that we need to all be aware of and be aware of each other, how to better support.
This firm chose not to hide from this horrible occurrence, but instead faced it, looked at it and to each other, sought support and to recognize that instead of to avoid it, boy, that’s a great step in the right direction.
Lisa Hardy: Yeah.
Karla Eckardt: Right. And I wanted to what I was going to say earlier is communication is important, I mean, you don’t always have to seek a counselor when there’s something wrong. So I love that you mentioned that this firm was maybe more proactive because I think that’s important in de-stigmatizing mental health, you don’t always need something going terribly wrong to reach out and talk to people, and if you don’t feel comfortable speaking with your co-workers that’s fine but there are always services, such as EAPs that can help you like Christine said sort of compartmentalize and inventory your life and really focus on specific things that may be causing you stress that you just can’t identify.
So talking and communication and just understanding that people sometimes need a little help moving the pendulum and really just getting through rather than having something horribly wrong, go wrong happen and then suddenly needing help. So just open, honest communication and understanding that sometimes people need that for no reason at all.
George W. Martin, Jr.: Exactly.
Christine Bilbrey: Absolutely.
Lisa Hardy: Yeah.
Christine Bilbrey: One of the things that was a huge change like I mean I think I can pinpoint it to the moment live when it happened, we kept trying to recruit people to talk about their own struggles and we needed people that were high-profile successful and finally, Dorie Foster Morales, who ran this committee at the beginning, got a fellow Board of Governor to speak at a live CLE at our annual convention we recorded it and it’s one of our most popular videos, but when he said when I found myself crying in my car or he had hit the wall and he was very public about the struggle he went through. He talked about the medication that he takes, he’s talked about the therapists that he sees, and his message was so joyful about how he has a higher quality of life than he ever has before.
And he was just — he just radiates that and it was funny because after he spoke then we had one of the previous young lawyers division Presidents talk about you know he’s taking this medication and he goes to his therapist and he just sees it as one more, it’s like going to the gym and taking vitamins, you’re taking care of yourself so that you can take care of your family and you can take care of your clients. And after that it was like all the cool kids were doing it and it broke this wall. So, yeah, calling someone and letting them hear you is huge, speaking out loud and making the stigma go away is huge.
And so, we’re going to continue with this movement, and I love the stories that you’re sharing with us, I mean, good, bad, sad, it’s all life and I and I think that that’s going to make the difference. I wonder there’s still listeners that are out there who are thinking, “I would never call a helpline”. And I want them to understand that this is a service that its real help that’s available to them, so do you have any anecdotal stories of success that you can share with us that you’ve heard from people at the Bar or just people that have your EAP services? We want to end on a happy note.
George W. Martin, Jr.: Lisa, you may be the best approach to that?
Lisa Hardy: Absolutely and one thing that we’ve not talked too much about so far today are substance use problems and concerns and I don’t want the time to pass and not mention them. I do appreciate that the emphasis is there that the initiatives that The Florida Bar is working on is going to include more than just that because that is another thing that does sometimes happen with EAPs, LAPs and similar programs. They get kind of labeled as, oh, that’s the drug and alcohol program.
So kudos for helping to frame that it’s much-much more than that, but it does include that, and for whatever reason literally yesterday and today have been the days where just every time my team and I have turned around, we have been talking with somebody who’s impacted by alcohol. Professions of all different things including attorneys and there is so much help and there is so much hope, and I am thinking of one particular attorney that really struggled. I ended up having the opportunity to work with them over a little more than a year, but in the end he was able to retire in good standing, in good health to do some things with grandkids, in that generation of his family that he if he had continued down the drinking path that he was on, he wouldn’t have any of those things. He wouldn’t have had his own health and he certainly would not have had his family.
We do have other stories that we know of where people have taken advantage of even Hospital programs, counseling all different levels of help to turn depression and anxiety around as it was reaching that hopeless state, have turned that around. So honestly from all different problems, and circumstances, and concerns we have definitely seen it’s that first phone call.
We know how hard that call is to make as you’ve also alluded to, when people call they don’t have to know exactly what to say, we are going to ask some questions. We are going to make some comments and offer some help in that moment and also help them in bringing language and verbiage and description to what they are going through.
Christine Bilbrey: That’s wonderful. Oh, and I do want to mention and this is something I think I told you separately when we met. One of the Bars talked about that after they had started with court care that their members have — they printed up business cards and with all of the benefits and the contact information for the CorpCare and their members are passing them out and they said, they’ve never felt more comfortable speaking to their co-workers to say, hey, it looks like you’re really having a hard time. Don’t forget that this is here for you that you can take advantage of this, and they said that just that little tiny thing has reduced the stigma and they’ve had to reprint the cards. I think that that’s wonderful like every little way that it can get out there, we’ve had classes here at the Bar, we had a Mental Health First Aid Training which sounds super-heavy and we had a great time, it was wonderful and it turned out to be really kind of joyful and life-affirming. So there’s always that side of it.
So we look forward to continuing this conversation with you and having this benefit for our members hopefully in the future.
George W. Martin, Jr.: Christine, I can say that we are looking forward to this exact same thing and I’m encouraged that you heard that from one of our Bar customers. I’ve always thought that actually therapists and attorneys are very, very similar. The typical clients they talk to are never happy. They’re typically always unhappy about something, and so often the attorney has to act much like a therapist in beginning of the conversation.
So I think that the counselors that we use in our network and they’re scattered all over the — thousands of them all over the nation and some of them have been with us by the way for over 20 odd years and we rely upon their professionalism and expertise and that’s where the EAP and LAPs really work best because they are a good group of people. They care about what they’re doing, they are committed to the mission of mental health and helping others, and I think that they are the success factor for CorpCare.
Christine Bilbrey: I love that. It’s funny, that should be obvious but I hadn’t thought about that attorneys have so much in common with therapist. They’re carrying the problems and the loads of their clients’ lives. I love that. I think attorneys will appreciate that when going to someone that can relate to them on that level. That’s an excellent point, George.
Well, it looks like we’ve reached the end of our program. Thank you, George Martin and Lisa Hardy for joining us today.
George W. Martin, Jr.: Thank You Christine, Karla.
Lisa Hardy: Yes, thank you.
Christine Bilbrey: If our listeners have questions about CorpCare Services or they just want to find out more information, how can they locate you on the Internet?
Lisa Hardy: www.corpcareeap.com
George Martin: There’s two Es in there.
Christine Bilbrey: Excellent, thank you. If you like what you heard today, please rate us in Apple Podcast. Join us next time for another episode of The Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by LegalFuel, the Practice Resource Center of the Florida Bar on Legal Talk Network.
I’m Christine Bilbrey.
Karla Eckardt: And I am Karla Eckardt. Until next time, thank you for listening.
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