Mental Health and Substance Abuse CLE Guidelines

The following guidelines were developed by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism for CLE providers and administrators who wish to apply for professional responsibility (PR) CLE credit in the area of mental health and substance abuse (MH&SA).

In planning any professional responsibility CLE, including mental health and substance abuse, please refer to General Guidelines for all Professional Responsibility CLE.

When considering topics for MH&SA CLE, we recommend providers consider whether the qualifications and experience of the presenters are appropriate to not only deliver the content but also to position the presenter as an expert in the field. This is particularly important with regard to topics such as suicide, substance abuse, trauma, and depression, which are areas that require specialized expertise and are best facilitated by engaging an appropriately qualified medical professional on a substantive level.

For these areas of specialized expertise, it is ideal that courses be co-presented by an expert in the legal field and an expert in the mental health field. We recognize that may not be possible. If a mental health professional presenter doesn’t have academic or practical experience in the legal field, we strongly recommend that an attorney is also engaged in the design and delivery of the course to ensure compliance with Rules 795(a)(1) and 795(a)(2) regarding the focus on the legal profession.

Topics that focus on well-being and adopting positive behaviors, such as time management, maintaining good mental health, stress management, etc. are encouraged. Personal stories and practical experience from the presenter can be powerful educational tools; however, extrapolating personal experience into guidance to the profession as a whole should be avoided.

Providers should also include resources and links to the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program (LAP) and as well as mental health support organizations appropriate to the topic so that participants can reference if needed at a later date.

Examples of well-being topics that have been approved in the past are:

  • Balancing personal and professional priorities
  • Maintaining emotional and mental health
  • Stress management
  • Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health and substance abuse
  • The effects of lawyer impairment on our profession
  • Destigmatizing mental health and substance abuse

Below are examples of professional degrees and roles held by mental health professionals who have been involved in courses that we have approved in the past:

  • Doctor of Psychology
  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist (LCP)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Professor of Psychiatry
  • Clinical Psychiatrist
  • Professor of Behavioral Sciences
  • Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC)
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
  • Master of Social Work (MSW)

On occasion, demonstrable experience and a valid body of work in the field of mental health in the legal profession has been accepted in lieu of the formal qualifications listed above.

Providers should also include resources and links to Illinois LAP and mental health support organizations that participants can reference if needed at a later date.

For information and advice regarding MH&SA topics in the legal profession, or to speak with someone about presenting, visit Illinois LAP: https://illinoislap.org/.

For more information, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness to learn about the different types of mental health professionals: https://www.nami.org/home.