News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Tips to Beat Anxiety in Law School

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. And it’s certainly normal to experience occasional anxiety in law school with being called on for class, taking exams, or doing any type of public speaking. But people with an anxiety disorder face feelings of worry or fear that can completely disrupt their school, work, or family life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are three kinds of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Treatments include talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, self-help or support groups, stress management techniques, or medication. The CSU Counseling Center or another mental health care provider can help diagnose and treat anxiety disorders.

There are plenty of tips to alleviate anxiety – (for example here, here and here), and these ideas can probably be used to help with garden-variety anxiety as well as the more debilitating kind. Here are some things to consider now:

  • If you’re in law school, you might be a perfectionist — a regular type-A personality. If that’s the case, try relaxing some of your rigidly high expectations for yourself, and celebrate the successes you’ve had so far in your law school career and in your life in general.
  • Again, if you’re in law school, you might be particularly risk-adverse. This is certainly a common trait among lawyers. If so, try doing something adventurous once a week. This might help you feel more comfortable with uncertainty and with not being in total control of everything around you.
  • As hard as it might sound at times, limit alcohol and caffeine – both have been shown to aggravate anxiety or cause panic attacks.
  • Even when law school seems to keep piling things on your plate, take time to get a little exercise each day and a good night’s sleep. Sometimes this alone is enough to knock out stress and anxiety.

20 Tips for a Total Spring Break Recharge

It’s Spring Break! What a perfect time to recharge, distress, get away from law school, and take a little time for yourself. It’s also a great time to start incorporating little things in your daily life that can really boost your mental and emotional wellbeing. Here are twenty ideas to try, loosely based on Mental Health America’s 31 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health.

  1. Think of three things you’re grateful for and write them down.
  2. Go for a quick walk, dance around the room, or bust out a quick set of push-ups.
  3. Start your day with a special latte or tea.
  4. Take a break from social media.
  5. Think of someone you haven’t spent much time with since starting law school and reconnect with them.
  6. Plan ahead and pack your lunch for a week.
  7. Read something just for fun.
  8. Think of three successes you’ve had so far in law school and write about them.
  9. Take a break from following politics.
  10. Donate to a favorite charity.
  11. Spend some time with a furry friend.
  12. Think of five things you love about yourself and write them down.
  13. Start a conversation with someone you don’t know.
  14. Indulge in a funny TV show, movie, or YouTube video.
  15. Spend some time outdoors.
  16. Do something creative like trying out a new recipe, playing an instrument, or doing a Pinterest project.
  17. Plant something, arrange flowers, or visit a botanical garden.
  18. If something’s been bothering you, write about your feelings.
  19. Do something you haven’t done since you were a kid.
  20. Think of someone who’s helped you in law school and say thank you.

It Happens to Law Students and Lawyers Too: Depression Facts and Resources

Having a rough day at law school can leave anyone feeling blue. But for people who have clinically diagnosed depression, low moods are long-lasting and more severe, and are often coupled with other symptoms like lack of energy or focus, feeling worthless, or irritability. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA),

  • There are several different types of depression, including major depressive disorder, which affects around 16.1 million adults in the U.S.
  • Women are more likely than men to experience depression.
  • Depression and anxiety disorders are not the same, but the symptoms can be similar. It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from both depression and anxiety.

Not surprisingly, the legal profession is not immune to depression. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine showed that approximately 28% of lawyers struggle with some form of depression. In a 2016 Survey of Law Student Well-Being, 17% of law students experienced depression, and one-sixth of the survey participants were diagnosed with depression since starting law school.

If you suspect that you or a law student you know is experiencing depression, there is help on campus and in the community. The CSU Counseling Center offers depression screenings in October and March each year. But you don’t have to wait until one of the screening events to get help. The Counseling Center offers individual programs on overcoming depression that you access anytime. Various organizations and support groups are available in the Cleveland area to help with depression.

It’s smart to recognize the difference between feeling down and being clinically depressed. You can educate yourself and get help if you or a friend needs it.

Help for Law Students with Substance Abuse Problems

As a law student, you’re probably all too aware that the stress of law school can lead to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, even suicide. One of the major risk factors of mental health disorders is substance abuse. According to the ABA Substance Abuse & Mental Health Toolkit, the substance most frequently abused by law students is alcohol, with prescription drug abuse also on the rise.

A 2014 Survey of Law Student Well Being reported that

  • 43% of law students reported binge drinking at least once in the last two weeks
  • 22% reported binge drinking two or more times in the prior two weeks
  • Over 14% reported the use of some prescription drug without a prescription in the prior year.

Help is available for alcohol and drug abuse problems on campus through the CSU Counseling Center. Another service that you might not realize is an option for you is OLAP, the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program. OLAP doesn’t just help lawyers and judges – their services are available to law students, too. OLAP can work to diagnose a substance abuse problem, offer recommendations, interventions, monitoring and support, and support for concerned family and friends.  OLAP also offers a self-test that runs you through some of the “tell-tale signs” of alcohol and drug abuse.

Suicide Prevention Resources

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall in the U.S., and the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 34. The American Bar Association states that because lawyers experience substance abuse and depression at a higher rate than the general population, they may be at a higher risk of suicide. Recent news stories of law student suicides have highlighted the fact that the problem occurs at law schools as well.

The VikesCare: Suicide Prevention resources at the CSU Counseling Center can help you or someone you know prevent suicide. The resources include on-campus in-person help, mobile apps, text help lines, phone and online resources, and local area assistance. You can also find information on how to respond if someone may be thinking of suicide or engaging in self-harm such as cutting. Suicide prevention help is available right here on campus and through easy-to-use apps, text lines, and online resources.