Who's Distressed? Not Only Law Students: Psychological Distress Level in University Students Across Diverse Fields of Study

Sydney Law Review, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2015

U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 740

33 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2016

See all articles by Wendy Larcombe

Wendy Larcombe

University of Melbourne - Law School

Sue Finch

University of Melbourne

Rachel Sore

University of Melbourne

Date Written: September 7, 2016

Abstract

Empirical studies consistently find that law students report high levels of psychological distress. But are law students at heightened risk among their university peers? The few available comparative studies suggest that law students may experience higher levels of psychological distress than their counterparts in medical degrees. However, data are scarce that compare the distress levels of students in law with students in non-medical programs. The study reported here addressed that gap by comparing the prevalence of psychological distress among law students and non-law students undertaking diverse academic programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels. The findings show that a significant proportion of students in diverse fields and at all levels of study reported high levels of psychological distress. Moreover, the law students’ odds of reporting severe symptoms of psychological distress were not the highest on any of the measures used. Overall, the findings suggest that law students are not alone among university students in experiencing high levels of psychological distress. We discuss the implications of this finding for current efforts to address student wellbeing in legal education.

Keywords: empirical studies, law students, psychological distress

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Larcombe, Wendy and Finch, Sue and Sore, Rachel, Who's Distressed? Not Only Law Students: Psychological Distress Level in University Students Across Diverse Fields of Study (September 7, 2016). Sydney Law Review, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2015; U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 740. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2836267

Wendy Larcombe (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

Sue Finch

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

Rachel Sore

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

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