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Mental health: Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself

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Mental Health

We all deal with the stress of law school in different ways. Some students wear it as a badge of honor or consider it a rite of passage, some joke about it with their friends, and others quietly accept it. A surprising few, however, look at their mental state as a serious issue.

Underneath all the stress and pressure of law school, deeper, more serious mental health issues can exist. In a 2014 ABA survey conducted among law students, 17 percent of students screened positive for depression, 23 per-cent screened positive for mild to moderate anxiety, and 14 percent screened positive for severe anxiety.

It’s increasingly important we’re proactive and focus on our own self-care and mental wellness.

In another ABA survey, 42 percent of respondents indicated that in the past year they had thought they needed help for mental health or emotional problems. Of that number, roughly half had actually received counseling from a health professional.

Both of these surveys indicated that the potential threat to bar admission, social stigma, and concerns about privacy were among the main concerns discouraging respondents from seeking help.

How to help yourself

It’s increasingly important we’re proactive and focus on our own self-care and mental wellness.The most important factor in doing so is knowing when to get help. It’s usually at the point when we experience one or more of the symptoms to an extent that interferes with our school work, personal life, or health. You can find lists of the symptoms of substance abuse, depression and anxiety in the ABA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Toolkit.

The toolkit is a joint effort of the ABA Law Student Division, ABA Com-mission on Lawyer Assistance Pro-grams, and the Dave Nee Foundation.

Many law schools offer free services for students seeking help for mental health and substance abuse problems. Look to your school’s website or online portal to see what programs your school offers. If you can’t readily find information there, check out the list of resources available to law students available in the toolkit.

If you’re hesitating to seek treatment, you should know that today, all the standard reasons for not seeking treatment have become moot. Find out why at the Before the Bar blog.

By JOHN LOUROS

JOHN LOUROS is a 3L at New York Law School and the law student member of the ABA Board of Governors. He’s also the LSD’s former secretary-treasurer and is currently president of his school’s Student Bar Association.

Student Lawyer Student Lawyer magazine provides guidance on educational, career, and related issues for ABA Law Student Division members and other subscribers. It is published four times a year by the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association. Student Lawyer is available online to members of the ABA Law Student Division and to print subscribers.