Jan. 1, 2020 – As we embark on a new year, Charleston Law is focused on helping students prioritize wellness and balance in 2020. As we all know, law school is an intense academic and social experience. Many students spend 60 hours a week studying, in addition to juggling extracurricular activities such as journals, moot court and student organizations. On top of these academic pressures, many students have financial stressors as well.
It’s no wonder the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being recently reported some dismal statistics on the mental health of law students. Twenty-three percent of students suffer from anxiety, 17% depression and 6% report having suicidal thoughts.
Of late, law schools and the legal profession in general have become more focused on mental health and wellness. Charleston Law is leading this charge with several programs to help students manage the stress of law school.
All students have access to counseling through our partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina. This confidential service provides up to six free counseling sessions to help with personal, educational, relationship and mental health issues. Couples counseling is available as well.
Charleston Law also works closely with the South Carolina Bar’s Lawyers Helping Lawyers program. Beth Padgett, the assistant director of this program, frequently comes to the law school and is available for one-on-one counseling sessions, as well as providing programming on stress management and mindfulness.
Padgett emphasizes that “just a few minutes of mindfulness practice a day can bring results” for students, including “sharpening the capacity to focus, enhancing memory, improving quality of sleep and strengthening the immune system.”
Recently, the school put together a day of programming in honor of International Mental Health Day. Students were treated to a meditation session, healthy food, information on nutrition and mindfulness and a yoga/barre class.
Charleston Law also has local resources on wellness and special discounts for students with area gyms and yoga/barre studios, including the MUSC Wellness Center. We provide students with information on stress management techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and visualization.
Around campus, students always can find a friendly face if they need to talk or are feeling overwhelmed. Associate Dean of Students Nick Sanders has an open-door policy and often meets with students who need support.
Having a close social circle is another critical part of wellness. Charleston Law has that community feel, with social events throughout the year such as a Back-To-School party and the Fall Ball to inspire those social connections. There are 34 student organizations, law review, moot court, and a trial advocacy board, making it easy to find a strong support network.
As we jump into 2020, many of us have resolutions to become healthier and reduce stress in our lives. In a profession where 40% of practicing lawyers identify as “unhappy,” wellness and stress management are becoming critical skills in the practice of law. Charleston Law hopes to start laying the foundation of self-care and balance early on, inspiring students to make choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.
Photo credit for Beth Padgett: Beth Padgett from Lawyers Helping Lawyers leads a mindfulness session at the law school.
Photo credit for yoga/barre studio: Barre3 Charleston Studio offers special rates for Charleston Law students.