By Brittany Koenig, Paralegal Navigator, Calgary
The legal process of a family law matter can be emotionally taxing for everyone involved and can often exacerbate pre-existing mental health issues. Mental health issues can also play a role in the legal proceedings, potentially affecting the outcome of the case. It is important for all parties involved to have access to mental health support and for the legal system to take the mental well-being of the parties into consideration. By breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, we can create a more supportive and understanding environment for those going through the legal process.
Mental Health & Family Law
One of the most common mental health issues that can arise during a family law case is depression. The end of a marriage or changes in your relationship with a child can be a traumatic event and is not uncommon for individuals to experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness. This can make it difficult for litigants to focus on their legal proceedings or to make decisions that are in their best interest.
Anxiety is another mental health issue that can arise during a family law case. The uncertainty of the legal process and the potential outcome can be overwhelming for some individuals. They may worry about the future and what it holds for them and their children, making it difficult to concentrate on the present or make decisions.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also be a concern for individuals who have been through high-conflict separations and family law related matters. The legal process can be a reminder of the traumatic events that occurred during the marriage or relationship and can trigger memories and emotions that were thought to be long gone.
From time to time, mental health issues can also play a role in legal proceedings. For example, if one party is suffering from a mental health issue, it may affect their ability to parent or make decisions regarding their children. In these cases, the court will consider the mental health of both parties and the best interests of the children when deciding on an appropriate parenting plan.
In some cases, mental health issues can also be used as a tactic in a legal proceeding. One party may use the other party’s mental health issues to try to gain an advantage in the case. This is not only unethical, but it can also be harmful to the individual with the mental health issue. It is important for the court to be aware of this tactic and to consider the mental health of both parties in an unbiased manner.
Regardless of whether you are currently experiencing any of the mental health issues outlined above or otherwise, the stress and emotional toll that family law proceedings can have on families can have an adverse effect on everyone involved. To combat these effects, it is essential to prioritize self-care and implement strategies that can help you manage stress and improve your emotional well-being.
Self-care is crucial for maintaining good mental health and well-being and involves taking the time to care for yourself, both physically and mentally. Below are some strategies you can consider while navigating your family law matter:
- Prioritize self-care: Make sure you take care of yourself physically and emotionally by eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that brings you joy and relaxation.
- Seek support: Talk to friends, family or a therapist about your feelings and concerns. Consider joining a support group for people going through similar experiences.
- Set boundaries: It is important to set boundaries with the other party in the conflict to protect yourself from unnecessary stress and emotional drain.
- Get informed: Learn about the legal process and what to expect so you can feel more in control and less uncertain about the future. Check out our free resources page which includes helpful blogs, FAQs, and common terms.
- Practice mindfulness: Try to stay present in the moment and focus on your breathing to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Take breaks: Give yourself regular breaks from thinking and talking about your legal proceedings. It is important to have time to de-stress, relax, and rejuvenate.
- Seek legal advice: Talk to a legal coach or family lawyer to help you understand your rights and options, and to help you navigate the legal process.
- Focus on the future: try to keep in mind that this is a temporary situation, and things will get better.
- Seek out services from a mental health professional if you need extra support or guidance in coping with your family law matter.
Mental Health Supports
While the legal process can be emotionally taxing, it is also an opportunity to move forward and start a new chapter. Seeking help and support can be a positive step in the right direction and can also help to alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty that can come with navigating the legal system. If you are looking for additional support or resources for mental health, here are a few options available in Alberta and British Columbia:
Alberta Health Services: AHS offers a wide range of mental health services, including counselling, therapy, and support groups. They also have a Mental Health Helpline that provides 24/7 support;
W: Help in Tough Times | Alberta Health Services
Distress Centre Calgary: this organization offers 24/7 crisis line, as well as counseling and support services for individuals and families affected by mental health issues.
W: Need Help? - 24 Hour Crisis Support - Distress Centre Calgary
Canadian Mental Health Associations (CMHA) Alberta Division: The CMHA offers a range of mental health services, including counseling, support groups, and educational programs.
W: Home Page - BounceBack | Retrouver son entrain (cmha.ca)
Mental Health Helpline: This government-funded helpline that provides confidential, 24/7 support and resources for individuals and families affected by mental health issues.
W: Health Link | Alberta Health Services
Calgary Counselling Centre: This company offers both virtual or in-person counselling services. They offer fees on a sliding scale according to your income, which means you only pay what you can afford.
W: Affordable Counselling Services | Calgary Counselling Centre
Homewood Health: This is a private mental health care provider that offers a range of services for individuals, including counseling, therapy, and support groups.
W: Homewood Health - EFAP
The Alex Community Health Centre: This organization provides a wide range of mental health services for individuals, including counselling, therapy, and support groups, as well as walk-in clinic and community programs.
W: Homepage - The Alex
British Columbia Mental Health and Substance Use Services: Information and resources on the various mental health and substance use resources and services offered across B.C.
W: Mental Health & Substance Use - Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca)
Canadian Mental Health Association, British Columbia Division: provides mental health promotion and mental illness recovery-focused programs and services for people of all ages and their families. Follow the links below for details.
W: Programs and Services (cmha.bc.ca)
Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: helps families across British Columbia navigate the mental health system, connect with peer support, and access resources and tools to support wellbeing.
W: Home | Kelty Mental Health
The BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information: provides information and resources to help with finding quality information, skill development, and connections to key resources within B.C.
W: We're here to help | Here to Help
Anxiety Canada: Registered charity and non-profit organization created to raise awareness about anxiety and support access to proven resources and treatment.
W: Home - Anxiety Canada
If you or a loved one is currently going through a family law matter and are struggling with the emotional toll it may be taking on you, know that you are not alone. At Coach My Case, we understand the unique challenges that come with navigating a family law matter and are here to help. We invite you to take the first step towards finding peace of mind by booking a free 20-minute consultation with one of our skilled paralegal navigators or legal coaches. During this call, you will have the opportunity to discuss your concerns, ask questions, and gain valuable insights on how we can support you through this process. Book a free consultation today and take the first step towards finding the resolution you deserve.