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Friday, March 28, 2008

ABA helping law students cope with stress

Yesterday was National Mental Health Day -- at least according to the American Bar Association Law Student Division.

The naming of the day, March 27, is part of the division’s recently established mental health initiative, and is intended to increase awareness of mental health concerns suffered by law students.

According to a press release from the ABA, between 20 and 40 percent of law students suffer from clinical depression at one time or another. Practicing lawyers experience mental health issues at a rate that is eight to 15 times higher than that of the general population. And of 104 occupational groups, lawyers ranked highest in numbers of professionals managing depression.

These stats convinced the Law Student Division that there was a need to equip students with tips on how to cope with things like stress and depression. To that end, and to kick-off the inaugural observance of National Mental Health Day, the division developed a tool that it says will aid students and academics in learning about some of the prevalent mental health problems law students experience.

The Toolkit for Student Bar Associations and Administrators includes a comprehensive section on signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, information on stress reduction and other keys to minimizing the symptoms of some mental illnesses.

Having gone through the law school experience myself, this sounds like a good idea to me. And anything we can do to prepare students for the stress involved in practicing law is a positive thing. I hope law schools and law students take advantage of the Law Student Division’s efforts in this regard.

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