Helping Law Students Get the Help They Need: An Analysis of Data Regarding Law Students’ Reluctance to Seek Help and Policy Recommendations for a Variety of Stakeholders
Vol. 84, No. 4, The Bar Examiner, 9-17, December 2015
10 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2016
Date Written: December 2015
This article summarizes some specific results from the Survey of Law Student Well-Being, which the authors administered as a voluntary and confidential web-based survey at 15 diverse law schools in the United States from February 2014 to May 2014.
This is the first survey to assess alcohol and drug use among law students since 1991 and is the first ever to assess prescription drug use/misuse, mental health issues, and help-seeking attitudes. The primary goals of collecting and analyzing the responses from the Survey of Law Student Well-Being were to better understand:
1) alcohol and drug use among law students,
2) the extent to which law students are experiencing mental health issues, and most importantly,
3) whether law students are seeking help for substance use and/or mental health issues and the reasons why they may be reluctant to do so.
The results of the survey suggest that significant percentages of law students are dealing with mental health issues and/or alcohol/drug issues but frequently are reluctant to seek the help they need to manage their issues in a healthy and responsible manner because of concerns about potential threats to bar admission, potential threats to job or academic status, or social stigma associated with seeking help.
This article explores the survey data — particularly the help-seeking data — and discusses how various stakeholders might take steps to increase the extent to which students choose to get the help they need to be successful students and successful legal professionals.
Keywords: law students, alcohol, drugs, mental health, help-seeking attitudes, bar admission
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