Roger Whittler offers mental health support to lawyers
You are not a failure if you ask for help. That's the message Roger Whittler continuously relays to lawyers through The Missouri Bar's lawyers' assistance program.
Whittler is a part-time clinician for the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program, a free confidential counseling program for Missouri Bar members, their immediate family or members of their household, and law school students. MOLAP offers 24/7 access to counseling, as well as crisis intervention services, educational programs and articles, and more.
Through MOLAP, Whittler provides mental health counseling virtually, in person, or by phone; identifies resources for lawyers seeking specific treatment; conducts mental health evaluations; and consults lawyers facing ethical issues, substance use, and other mental health concerns.
“Stress, the difficulty in the situations that they have to manage, the problems that society faces -- a lot of those problems are eventually on the doorsteps of law offices,” Whittler said. “People are normally facing difficult circumstances when they contact a lawyer and have questions that are hard to answer, so it puts a lot of stress on lawyers.”
MOLAP is constantly striving to get its array of services in front of lawyers and ensure they know they are not alone.
“It’s free, it’s inviting, it’s confidential, and it’s important,” Whittler said. “We want to get that message across and provide our services in those cases where we may have someone who hesitates to call.”
MOLAP had more than 1,800 contacts with lawyers last year, Whittler said, but there is still a stigma attached to mental health. Lawyers want to fix their clients’ problems, yet they oftentimes do not want to say when they need help themselves. Whittler encouraged lawyers to contact MOLAP, adding the outcomes are far better if they choose to speak to someone.
“It’s not a sign of weakness if a person needs someone to talk to about something that is distressful,” he said. “I think that’s pretty much universal. We all experience those difficulties at one point or another so to talk to someone is a more accurate response than to avoid it because of the perceived stigma or the belief.”
Before joining The Missouri Bar team two years ago, Whittler worked at the Missouri State Highway Patrol for more than 30 years before retiring in 2018. He also operated a private clinical practice in Jefferson City. He has been a licensed professional counselor for 11 years.
Whittler said his favorite part about his job is The Missouri Bar’s work environment.
“You’re working with people who have a common orientation about doing things that are helpful to the overall community that we serve,” he said.
To learn more and access additional resources, call 1-800-688-7859 or visit MoBar.org/MOLAP.