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September 30, 2013 | by  | in News | [ssba]

How Could We Have Known?

Having to get up early to stand in line at Country Road sales is not the only source of stress for Law students, according to the results of a recent study.

New Zealand Law Students’ Association (NZLSA) surveyed 880 students from each of the country’s six law schools, in an attempt to gain a picture of Law students’ mental health. More than a quarter of students surveyed said that they had developed a clinical mental-health problem since being at University.

Half the students surveyed saw legal study as a contributing factor to their mental-wellbeing issues, and one in six considered it a direct cause. Regarding stress, 63.5 per cent of those surveyed considered their high stress levels as coming “mainly from being a student”. Legal study was considered a direct cause of stress by 40 per cent of students, and a contributing factor by a further 50 per cent, while 23 per cent attributed their stress mainly to other areas of their life.

Among the most stressful factors of studying Law were high expectations for top grades, the pressure of finding a job after law school, the number of readings, time required by study, and pressures exerted by other Law students. The NZLSA is increasingly concerned with addressing high stress levels and incidence of mental illness in its students, concerns backed up by the study.

“These are disappointing, although unsurprising, results. But now that we have some home-grown evidence on the table, NZLSA can properly commit its time and resources to addressing this problem,” said NZLSA President Seamus Woods.

The Victoria Law Students’ Society (VUWLSS) blamed the “competitive and intense” nature of legal study for the prevalence of high stress and mental-health issues. Salient spoke to a Law student who confirmed this, saying Law was a unique study environment.

“I think that all study is stressful, but yeah, law school seems to be pretty adept at making you feel like everyone else is doing better than you.”

VUWLSS is running Wellness Week until Friday down at Pipitea, aiming to promote awareness of mental health in a non-confrontational way and enhance general happiness before the upcoming exam period. Copies of the recently published NZLSA/DLA Phillips Fox Mental Wellness Guidebook for New Zealand Law Students are readily available.

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