Stop the Stigma: Resources for Discussing Mental & Emotional Health with Law Students

Although this post is not specifically about a legal research or teaching topic, it is a topic of paramount importance for our law students and for ourselves. The official law school National Mental Health Day has passed (it was in March), but it is always a good time to share information.

The statistics on mental health among law students are staggering and concerning. According to the Dave Nee Foundation, entering law students have a psychological profile similar to that of the general public, but upon graduation, between 20% and 40% of them will have some form of psychological dysfunction. There are many resources of which we should be aware so we can work together to decrease stigma and create an environment where these issues may be discussed.

The following resources are useful ones to learn about and to share with our students:

American Bar Association’s Mental Health Initiative – The Mental Health Initiative is a law student division initiative that provides a toolkit for law schools planning to increase awareness of mental health issues. The website also provides links to a number of resources on several mental health issues, including gambling, internet, and sex addictions as well as substance abuse, stress, depression, and anxiety.

Law Lifeline – A project of the Jed Foundation and the Dave Nee Foundation, Law Lifeline is a brand new resource that debuted in late 2012 designed specifically to provide law students an “anonymous, confidential, online resource center” for information regarding all aspects of mental and emotional health. Topics include depression, anxiety, suicide, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, self-injury, and more. This resource also provides a Help Line law students can call 24 hours per day.  In addition, the site provides a search tool so law students across the nation can find their specific school’s resources for mental and emotional health needs.

Active MindsActive Minds is a non-profit student organization that promotes open discussion of mental health among college students at all levels. Interestingly, a search for chapters on the site suggests the University of Michigan Law School is the only law school with a chapter. Perhaps we can encourage our own students to start a chapter. One way we can help is by volunteering to be a faculty advisor to the student group.

Grad Resources Grad Resources is a faith-based, non-profit organization that supports the emotional and spiritual health of graduate and professional students of all religious affiliations. The website also provides a Crisis Help Line in addition to a function to connect students with a mentor.

These invaluable resources will only help our students or us if we make sure people are aware of them. What actions does your law school take to promote emotional and mental wellness among students, faculty, and staff?

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