by Tiffany P. Monorom
According to the Australian Financial Review, lawyers and legal related professionals have the lowest health and wellbeing compared with other professionals.
Lawyers’ high risk of mental health illness and depression originates as early as their time at law school. As a law student, you are expected to do well in your assessments and to have a part-time job while feeling pressured to engage with extracurricular activities and other social commitments. These demands often mean that law students forget to take care of our mental health and wellbeing.
As such, knowing how to properly cope with mental health issues early on is one of the first essential steps to succeeding as a law student at university.
What is mental health?
The World Health Organisation refers to mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.
Headspace further explains that mental health problems can arise when feelings of anger, anxiousness or disappointment persist for long periods of time. For students specifically, the cause of these feelings results from stress at university and work, financial difficulties, and any other personal related issues.
Each student learns how to cope with these stresses and anxieties differently, whether it is eating healthy, meditating or getting plenty of sleep. Most importantly, knowing what resources and services are available to students and where to get them is the way to attain the best possible coping mechanisms.
Through my experience, I think the first few people to seek help from would be those who are closest to you—that is your friends and family. You may feel more at ease discussing personal struggles with them and they may be in a better position to give you advice through their own life experiences because they might have gone through something similar.
If you are looking to speak to a professional, you can make an appointment with ANU Health or ANU Counselling Centre. Due to a shortage of staff, you might have to wait for a couple of weeks before you get to see your counsellor. An alternative would be to attend the centre from 8:55am or give them a call at 6125 2442 to get a shorter, same-day appointment.
The LSS Wellbeing Director can also provide support or direct you to the right resources and services regarding law students’ mental health. Ella Masri is the 2017 Wellbeing Director and she is contactable through the LSS Wellbeing Facebook Page.
Lifeline and Beyondblue also provide 24-hour anonymous support through online chat or over the phone. Headspace and Batyr are also platforms aiming to engage with and educate people about mental health by providing online resources and a range of interactive programs.
Keep in mind that you are not the only one who is suffering from mental health problems—those around you will be experiencing other difficulties too. But if you know of any further resources and services, do let your friends know and help them through this stressful period in their life.
University is one of the best experiences you can have so go easy and take care of yourself and your friends. One idea is to grab a friend and participate in ANUSA’s Wellbeing Week and LSS’s Wellbeing in the Law Week that usually occur during May. They have a range of activities throughout the week including yoga and meditation, a petting zoo, and health and nutrition workshops.
A number of resources are available online for you to access if you need further guidance in dealing with your mental health and wellbeing. Here are some of the resources to get you started:
Student Wellness: Coping with Anxiety & Stress at University
ALSA Wellbeing Tips and Tricks