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Mental health awareness webinars draw high interest among members

Response to the free webinars held last week to mark NCRA’s Mental Health Awareness Week drew high interest from members. A total of six live webinars led by mental health experts aired throughout the week observed Oct. 5-9. They were offered to help members invest in their own mental health by learning more about how to take care of themselves. The discussions ranged from the ramifications of working in the legal industry to strategies to create more resilience in everyday life with better self-care.

“I want to thank everyone who attended the webinars held to mark NCRA’s Mental Health Awareness Week,” said NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR, a firm owner from North Beach, Fla. “I hope you found them valuable and were able to collect some helpful insights and potential tools to encourage and maintain strong mental health for yourself and for those important to you in your life. Please stay strong during these stressful times and remember that each of you are part of the NCRA family. Together we are stronger,” she added.

Although no CEUs were offered for these sessions, the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF), which sponsored the sessions, felt that the important topics addressed should be made available to all NCRA members and arranged to have each of them recorded for future viewing. NCRA members can access the webinars on the Association’s Mental Health Resources page.

The sessions included:

An Honest Discussion on Mental Health Issues in the Legal Field from
All Stakeholders,
which was an open town hall discussion conducted by
Dori Foster-Morales, Esq.; NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR; and the Hon. Beatrice Butchko of how our jobs in the legal field affect our mental health and how we can protect ourselves. The discussion confronted some of the myths and fears about mental health and provided insight and understanding into how we can help ourselves and others when it comes to mental health issues.

Back to Basics: Mental Health Essentials during the Pandemic, which
was led by Raymond J. Kotwicki, MD, MPH, DFAPA, the Charles B. West chief medical officer at Skyland Trail, a nationally acclaimed treatment organization for adults with mental illnesses based in Atlanta, Ga., and a nationally recognized speaker on issues in psychiatry, mental health, professionalism, and wellness. The session focused on the psychological impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all of us, from social isolation to increased sleep disturbances and chronic worry and anxiety. Kotwicki also talked about how to differentiate when feelings are “normal” during such unprecedented times and when they suggest more serious problems, and more.

Balance and Self-Care in a World of COVID-19, Deadlines, and Virtuality, which was led by Vicki Akenhead Ruiz, FAPR, RPR, CMRS (Ret.), a former court reporter and a past NCRA president. Ruiz talked about approaches to dealing with the stress coming from working in the courtroom and how stress affects reporters. In addition, she shared tips for dealing with loss and how to strengthen your overall mental health.

Self-Care: Managing Life with School, Family, Work – and a Pandemic,
which was led by Dr. Sherry Cooper, LMFT, who addressed how to balance the responsibilities of being a student and taking care of yourself. Dr. Cooper also introduced the topic of self-care, its importance to your overall well-being, ways to engage in self-care, and the repercussions of neglecting self-care.

Practicing Mindfulness, which was led by Debi Galler, the general counsel of Green Street Power Partners, a developer, owner, and operator of solar projects throughout the United States based in Connecticut and a mindfulness practitioner and trainer. Galler explained how mindfulness can play a meaningful role in the lives of legal professionals and how mindfulness can change the structure and function of the brain in the areas of attention, emotional regulation, and memory. 

Self-Care 101, which was led by Aigner Fells, MS, a psychotherapist who provides therapy for individuals, couples, groups, and families and takes a holistic approach to bring awareness to her clients and helps them work to develop strategies and reach desired goals. She discussed the issue of burnout syndrome and how self-care can set the stage to counter burnout, which, in turn, releases physical and emotional toxins. Throughout the webinar, participants learned about the effects of burnout syndrome and how to be better equipped with tools and strategies for implementing self-care as part of their daily routine.