It's an open secret that law school is tremendously stressful. But it may not be obvious to everyone just how much stress law students are under—and the dangers this stress poses to their mental health. Even for students who have never suffered from anxiety or depression before, academic pressure can take a serious toll on mental health and well-being. And because so many students spend at least three years in law school, and since the first year of law school is particularly stressful, it's easy to see why right now might be one of the most pressing times in a student's life for him or her to get help if they need it.

Mental health challenges can be overwhelming, but it is possible to overcome them. Knowing what to do and where to get help gets easier when you have strategies in place for dealing with the symptoms that come with mental health conditions. You don't need to go through this alone—there are professionals who can help you develop a plan that fits your needs and lifestyle. Like all college students, law students may experience mental health challenges, including:

Hyperactivity/Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)

Students with ADHD may find it difficult to concentrate in class and outside of class. Also, they are prone to acting without thinking, experiencing periods of restlessness and excessive activity, and forgetting or losing things frequently.


By the end of the first year of law school, research indicates that 34% of students experience depression. Students with mild to severe depression may experience feelings of sadness and loneliness, difficulty sleeping, and other depression symptoms. It may seem that these symptoms are mild at first, but they may worsen rapidly.

Substance Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcohol and substance abuse can be problematic for legal professionals. The prevalence of drug abuse on university and college campuses is increasing. The peer pressure to take illicit drugs can hamper law students' mental health. Some law students may turn to drugs to cope with the pressure of earning a law degree.

Feeling Anxious

Anxiety can affect anyone occasionally. However, law students may experience anxiety that results in persistent fatigue, breathing difficulties, gastrointestinal problems, and other symptoms. If ignored, these symptoms can prevent law students from feeling or performing at their best.


Here are a few tips for getting the most out of therapy while working toward overcoming mental health challenges:


1. Don't be afraid to ask for help - Mental health challenges are easier to overcome when the right assistance is given at the right time, so if you feel like you need more support than what therapy alone can provide, don't hesitate to ask your counselor or therapist about getting additional help with whatever issues are currently plaguing you. They want to see you get better and will do everything they can within reason to ensure success; let them know how they can best assist you in this endeavor.


2. Practice positive self-talk - It might seem odd at first but reminding yourself that you are a good person who has the potential to achieve great things can do wonders for confidence and motivation when dealing with mental health challenges. Remind yourself of the positive things in your life, whether it's family or friends, doing something fun or helpful, succeeding at work or school, etc.—and let those things be your guideposts throughout therapy.


3. Exercise regularly - Physical activity is an important part of staying healthy and dealing with mental health challenges because it releases endorphins into the system that make people feel happier as well as encourages physical activity. It may not seem like exercise will solve all problems—it doesn't—but it's one of many other techniques used by therapists to help clients cope with symptoms and overcome mental health challenges.


4. Get support from others - Relying on people in your life for encouragement is one of the most helpful tools you can use to help yourself get better; it's much easier to fight through challenges when you have a strong support system in place. This can include friends, family members, and co-workers who want you to succeed—lend them an ear when you need it most and be there for them as well. Remember: There are always people willing to lend a helping hand if needed!


5. Ensure you get enough sleep - Ideally, you should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Also, you may practice mindfulness activities before bedtime by reading a book, meditating, or doing other activities. If students get sufficient rest, they can go to bed and wake up feeling rejuvenated.


6. Consume a healthy diet - You should choose nutritious foods over fats and sugars. A healthy diet can make a world of difference to how a law student feels. This diet may help law student reduce their risk of depression and other mental health disorders over time.


7. Avoid alcohol and drugs - Alcohol and drugs can make managing mental health challenges more difficult than ever before for law students.


8. Take advantage of daily rewards - Reward yourself for achieving a milestone every day on your path to earning your law degree. It can be motivating for students to perform their best on a law exam if they know they will go to a movie with friends afterward. Following the completion of the exam, the student can enjoy a movie with friends to celebrate their accomplishments.

Most law students are dealing with the pressures of law school alone, without seeking help for their problems, just as they were taught to do in any number of elite law school classrooms years ago. But this slow erosion of mental health can hold many long-term consequences that last long after graduation —including impaired professional functioning and an increased risk for substance abuse later on in life.


Law school can be a stressful experience. The combination of new responsibilities decreases free time and demanding classwork can take its toll on the mental health and well-being of students. Dealing with law school stress is important for ensuring the academic success and well-being of law students. In order to prevent mental health challenges in law school, be proactive. It allows law students to stay on top of these challenges in their first few years of practice.

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