Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Law School & Mental Health

Deborah Jones Merritt has an important post on law school and mental health on Inside the Law School Scam.  She declares, "Law school can hurt. As commenters have noted, law school and legal practice are associated with high rates of alcoholism, substance abuse, and mental illness. Those disorders can shorten your life--in addition to making the years miserable for you and your loved ones."

She continues, "If you find yourself in one of these categories, I encourage you to take a leave of absence from law school. Talk to the associate dean who usually counsels students on these issues, or to another sympathetic faculty member. Arrange at least to take some time off from law school. Your particular situation, when combined with the more general pressures of debt and the job market, makes law school a particularly bad bet for you."  She adds, "If you're unsure about your mental or physical health, talk to your family and close friends."

She concludes, "The bottom line is that law school costs too much--and is too financially risky--to combine with other types of risk. If law school is hurting you in any of the above ways, please give yourself a break and take some time off to consider options. Even if you ultimately return to law school, you'll be happier, healthier, and more likely to benefit from your remaining classes."

Very good advice.  I should add that, if a law professor observes one of his or her students having emotional problems, that professor should notify the proper person in the administration.  While most of us are not experts in mental health, we can at least help get those who are involved.  Also, when our students just need a shoulder to cry on, we should be there.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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