You, the law student, matter. It is okay that you will not be okay from time-to-time while in law school; this Toolkit is the result of efforts from hundreds of individuals around the country who want to facilitate your well-being.
Mental Health Matters
What do doctors, attorneys, and CEOs have in common? No, this isn’t a joke… These are all occupations that have the highest rates of stress and depression among all occupations. Attorneys across the U.S. have begun to realize how prevalent the problem is.
Unfortunately it isn’t much better for us as students; by the time we graduate, we are nearly four times more likely to develop depression or other mental health issues. When we finally become attorneys, we enter this adversarial system where there’s always a winner and a loser and we can’t always be the winner.
Because of this competition, this sink or swim attitude, it creates this atmosphere of stress and anxiety that looms over every law school and stays with us throughout our entire career.
One of the biggest challenges we face is erasing the stigma of mental health issues, and many troubled students keep to themselves and refuse to seek help out of fear. Take a look at the information here and let these people know that they are not alone by raising awareness of mental health issues.
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength.
For immediate help: National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800.784.2433)
National Mental Health Day – October 10
The ABA Law Student Division’s official National Mental Health Day at law schools is observed on the same day mental health initiatives are spotlighted across the country. Law schools are encouraged to sponsor educational programs and events that teach and foster breaking the stigma associated with severe depression and anxiety among law students and lawyers.
Whether through your SBA or local bar groups, we hope you and your law school will take this opportunity to play an active role in the activities and events planned throughout the country for National Mental Health Day.
Buy Gear to Support Mental Health Efforts!
Join the ABA in supporting mental health awareness in the legal profession. The ABA Law Student Division and the ABA Commission for Legal Assistance Programs (CoLAP) is offering an exclusive contest-winning design to raise awareness for the mental health of lawyers and law students across the country. The design comes from Mary Maerz of the University of Virginia School of Law. All proceeds will be donated to CoLAP.
Mental health posts from Before the Bar, the Law Student Division blog.
ABA Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP)
Alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental health problems are afflictions that affect a great number of professionals including lawyers and judges. To provide a model for assisting lawyers whose practices had been impaired by addictions, the ABA created the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) to provide support to attorneys fighting addictions as well as stress, depression, and other mental health problems. The Commission’s primary goal is to advance the legal community’s knowledge of impairments facing lawyers and to provide a response to those issues.
Resources from CoLAP and the ABA
- Virtual Resources for Law School Graduates – Summer 2020
- Well-Being Pledge Campaign
- Well-Being Template for Legal Employers
- Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers
- The Anti-Stigma Campaign
- ABA Law Assistance Programs
- CoLAP Law Student List Serve: A confidential listserv for recovering law students. For information on joining this group, contact Nicki Irish.
- Law School Peer Support Network Training Manual (By Jessica Stahl, Ph.D., University of Minnesota)
ABA Mental Health Reports
- Survey of Law Student Well-Being
- Suffering in Silence: The Survey of Law Student Well-Being and the Reluctance of Law Students to Seek Help for Substance Use and Mental Health Concerns
- Helping Law Students Get the Help They Need: An Analysis of Data Regarding Law Students’ Reluctance to Seek Help and Policy Recommendations for a Variety of Stakeholders
- The Path To Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change
- Report on the ABA CoLAP Law Student Assistance Committee Law School Wellness Survey
Mental Health Working Groups
- Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession
- National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being
- Bazelon Center: Bar Exam Resources for Law Students and Graduates (Character and Fitness)
Podcasts and Video
The Path to Law Student Well-Being: Podcast Series
- Episode 1, Part 1: Ways individual faculty members can notice, engage with, and support students they suspect are in distress.
- Episode 1, Part 2: Steps faculty can take to promote student well-being through their teaching in the classroom and includes concrete actions for law school administrators.
- Episode 2: A short conversation about character and fitness evaluations in the bar admission process as it pertains to mental health issues and substance use disorders.
- The Elephant in the Room: The Legal Profession, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse
- Law Student Podcast: Law School and Depression
- CoLAP Voices of Recovery Podcast Series
- To Hell and Back: One Lawyer’s Path to Recovery
- The Besden Redemption
Legal Profession Articles From the ABA
- ABA Student Lawyer Magazine dedicated to Wellness and How to Deal with Law School Stress
- Law school stress: It’s not about you, and it’s all about you
- How to Rewire Your Brain to be More Resilient in Your Legal Career
- The Key to Law Student Well-Being? We Have to Love Our Law Students
- Law Student Division’s Essential Mental Health Articles
- The Careerist: Lawyer Depression Begins Early
- Speaking Up: Helping Law Students Break Through the Silence of Depression (ABA Journal)
- Character and Fitness: How to Handle Substance Abuse or Mental Illness (Student Lawyer magazine)
Mental Health Content from Other Sites
- Lawyers of Sound Mind (The New York Times)
- Seeking Help For Substance Use Before the Bar Becomes a Bar (by Dean David Jaffe, American University-Washington College of Law)
- Addicted Lawyers Start as Addicted Law Students (by Meghan Vivo, Elements Behavioral Health)
- Why Are Lawyers Killing Themselves? (CNN)
- Are You Fit To Be a Lawyer (From the Law Student Working Group of the Minnesota State Bar Association Life & Law Committee)
- More articles from CoLAP’s resources for law students page
Blogs and Other Contributors
- CoLAP Cafe Blog
- Bar Exam Toolbox – Tools & Resources for Bar Exam Success
- Lawyers With Depression
- Law School Academic Support
- Drug Abuse Treatment Programs
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- National Institute on Mental Health
- Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance
- Quit Smoking Community
- National Eating Disorders Association
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
- EDucation and INsight on Eating Disorders
- Gamblers Anonymous
- Sex Addicts Anonymous-An Invitation to Recovery
- Hypersexual Disorder Warning Signs (American Psychiatric Association)
- Internet Addiction Guide (PsychCentral)