If you sometimes feel like law school is doing your head in, you are not the only one. Research indicates that law students are more likely than other university students to face depression and anxiety. Those statistics take on a much more human character as semester goes on and we see students in our offices who are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, grief or feeling overwhelmed with juggling work, study and family. While one-on-one support will always be vital, in 2016, the Law School is introducing Wellbeing Week, during week 10 of semester one, as an additional way to support students, to foster our community and to help students build resilience to deal with the inevitable pressures which law school and your future career involve.
“The La Trobe Law School is committed to the implementation of the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation principles which draw attention to the risk of depression and anxiety within the legal community; I warmly endorse these principles and urge you to participate in Wellbeing Week”, remarks Professor Patrick Keyzer, Head of the Law School. “We regard managing your wellbeing and supporting the wellbeing of your colleagues as crucial professional skills, upon which all your legal knowledge and skills rest. We think about student wellbeing in everything we do as a Law School, but we wanted to give it particular focus at a time in the year when students can be feeling stressed out or overwhelmed. Hence, Wellbeing Week is scheduled for week ten – just when you have probably finished one lot of assessment and are realising the size of the task ahead of you for your end of semester assessment – exactly when you could do with a massage, a laugh, or some new strategies on handling the stress and keeping well.”
The purpose of Wellbeing Week is to support student wellbeing by:
- Helping students to connect – understand that you are not alone! Everyone faces and deals with the difficulties of their law school experience differently, but people can be very good at keeping up a shiny happy façade. Research indicates that we can build law student’s well-being and resilience by increasing levels of interaction between students. It can be incredibly helpful just to talk about what you are finding challenging with other students and to share what has worked to help manage your own stress.
- Supporting students in building emotional resilience – law school is tough, but know that the Law School supports you and that there are mechanisms and resources to help you cope with the difficulties of law life. Being a part of the La Trobe Law Community and interacting with other students can promote a sense of belonging – one of the key factors in lifting wellbeing.
- Drawing attention to the existing wellbeing resources available to you such as the counselling services, special consideration and equity and diversity programs here at La Trobe.
- Starting conversations about the stressful aspects of law school and asking what else we could be doing as a law school to help students manage their wellbeing.
We’ll be announcing the program for Wellbeing Week shortly, but before we do that, we’d like to invite you to share your wellbeing tips and stories – what kinds of things have helped you cope, and what kind of dilemmas do you face in managing the stress of law school? All responses will remain anonymous and there will be glamourous prizes for the best and funniest tips and stories – UniSport vouchers for massages and group fitness classes, along with La Trobe hoodies. Please forward your responses via our Wellbeing Week Survey.
In the lead up to Wellbeing Week, we’ll share a few of the best and funniest wellbeing tips here on the blog – from students, academics and alumni.