Help Others Seek Help

by Dean Duane Strojny

CC License

I am writing about a topic that is rarely, if ever, discussed in librarianship. It has nothing to do with technology or the future of librarianship. It has nothing to do with enrollment in law schools or bar passage rates. It has to do with death. Yes, that is an uncomfortable word. Someone I know quite well has just lost a child to PTSD. The son of loving parents in a very caring family took his own life. However, this post also has to do with life and the dark places many people we know are in due to grief, loss, and addiction. While it is impossible to deal with all these topics in a short blog post, I am hoping to make others more aware of what colleagues may be going through. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

Do you know someone who has lost someone in this way? What about a friend suffering from a miscarriage? Does someone you know drink too much? Is there a family member dealing with a chronic pain problem? Do you know someone dealing with cancer? Have you ever suffered from physical or emotional abuse? The list of negative experiences that get in the way of actually enjoying life and making our careers more productive and successful is daunting.

There are many reasons why people suffer from mental illness, addiction, or severe grief issues. The problem is that too many times they are suffering in silence with not even their closest family or friends aware of what is happening. When a helping hand notices that something is not quite right, they do not know where to go. It paints a tragic and bleak picture for all involved. However, there is help. You and I have heard that before, either in what we have read or what someone has shared with us.

The reality is that talking about these issues often helps the suffering person deal with things and gives their support group more hope for a continued life full of wonderful experiences. It is not easy to confront someone about a problem and is often more difficult if it is a family member or a close friend at work. There are many groups to reach out to for support. As information professionals, we owe each other the time to help a family member, friend, or colleague in need.

While AALL does not have any official assistance program, maybe the time has come. The stress of work and life outside of the office is much more than it was in the past. Budgets that have stripped us of adequate staffing and limited research resources make the law library of today a very different place than ten or twenty years ago. A supervisor could be verbally abusive or a student employee might be dealing with an addiction problem. The ABA, ALA, and AALS all offer sessions to help with substance abuse as part of their regular conference schedules. The legal world is known for the tension and anxiety it can create in our lives. The only way that can change is if we are aware of the issues and where we can get support and assistance.

Usually, I would provide a list of resources here, but I am not doing that today. There are hundreds of readers of this blog. Often, someone I encounter will say, “I enjoyed your post.” However, there are rarely significant comments or discussion for any particular post. I am hoping to change this time.

Please share with us and join in the discussion of how people can help one another and seek help. Do you have a good resource to refer to a colleague or friend in need? Help build the list and share your experiences.

This entry was posted in Issues in Librarianship (generally), Work/Life Balance and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Help Others Seek Help

  1. Laura Ax-Fultz says:

    Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Assistance, for lawyers, judges, law students, and their families for a range of issues. “Suffering is not necessary. Help is available.”

  2. The University of Illinois College of Law Library has a LibGuide Called “How to survive law school without losing your mind.” It links to an interactive self-care guide I really like (although descriptive, not a fan of the title):

  3. Donna Nixon says:

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline –, 1-800-273-8255.

  4. Thank you for your continued responses on this topic. The ABA is reading my mind and has published a new book on legal professionals and depression entitled The Full Weight of The Law.

  5. K Devlin says:

    For Federal Employees: Employees can call 1-800-222-0364 (888-262-7848 TTY) from anywhere in the United States to receive immediate assistance, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also obtain information and resources online at

  6. With so many depressed attorneys bringing their depression into the library (and into the law firm in general), I think depression can “rub off” on us law librarians and everyone who works in a law firm, so “The Full Weight of the Law” would be really useful to anyone who works in a law firm (or other stressful legal environment). I didn’t feel depression in the air when I was a law school librarian, but I sure did as a law firm librarian. I attended law school at night for 5 years while working full-time as a law librarian at the law school and looking back, I sure could have used “The Full Weight of the Law” ( for myself and “Positive Professionals” (

    I’d be curious if law librarians in libraries outside of law firms feel (or have felt) “depression in the air?” It can be very toxic.

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