Monday, January 19, 2015

Law students and depression

ATL is reporting on a study conducted by Yale Law School that found 70% of law students who responded to a survey asking about the status of their mental health indicated they had indeed struggled with depression and other mental health issues at some point during law school.  (Here's a link to the Yale Daily News which has summarized the 120 page report). A shockingly high number to say the least.  Excerpts of the study published by ATL indicate that student stress is the result of a number of different pressures, real and perceived, including "palpable" competition between classmates, the emphasis by "students, faculty and administrators" to "win the rat race," the fear of being perceived as "stupid," and the fear of appearing weak for admitting that the pressures of law school can be overwhelming. 

Depression and mental health issues among law students have been reasonably well documented before but ATL's Joe Patrice opines that the off-the-chart figures in the Yale study could have something to do with the unique, over-achieving personalities of Yalies. 

Perhaps the most troubling finding in the study is that apparently "no one" seeks help due to the stigma attached to admitting that one is struggling with a mental health issue.  Here's an excerpt from the ATL story:

 If You're in Law School, You're Probably Depressed.

The pervasive mental health issues plaguing the legal profession are well-established. As an occupation, lawyers are more prone to clinical depression and substance abuse problems. At its very worst, lawyers can turn to suicide at an alarmingly high rate.


Last month, we linked to a Yale Daily News article about a study revealing “widespread” mental health troubles. But now that we’ve sat down with the full 102-page report, it’s clear that the original article didn’t do justice to the study’s troubling findings. In a nutshell, a large segment of law students face mental health issues and most students don’t seek help, not that the law schools — and the universities that support them — offer much assistance anyway.


. . . .


Despite the widespread incidence of mental health issues, the report reveals that, unsurprisingly, no one seeks help fearing the stigma attached to admitting they need help (and the problem is worse for men than women, straight people than LGBT people, students of color than whites, and poor students than rich students). Seeking help is thought to be admitting a weakness, or demonstrating unworthiness to the professors who can guide your future career. Even more debilitating, most students fail to understand what a mental health diagnosis might mean for their admission to the bar. Nothing can dissuade someone from getting help more than the fear that they’ll never get a job if they speak up.

. . . .

Continue reading here.


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