World Mental Health Day, celebrated annually on October 10th, is a day to bring awareness to mental health issues and for individuals to band together to promote mental wellness, improve public dialogue and care for those struggling with mental health issues. Today the BC Law community is rallying together to share other ways individuals cultivate joy, cope with stressors, and find perspective while in law school.
Unfortunately, a high-pressure environment along with a number of other stressors puts individuals in law school and in the legal field at risk for developing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse disorders. In fact, law students disproportionally struggle with mental health issues in comparison to the general population, as previously discussed in A Necessary Look at Mental Health in Law School and Out of Place? You’re Not Alone. Fortunately, Boston College offers professional help to those struggling with a mental health issue – no matter how small. (Links provided below this post).
Along with providing professional mental health services, it is especially important for law schools to promote mental wellness. According to the World Health Organization, mental wellness is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Thus, mental wellness is not necessarily the absence of mental health issues, but rather is the presence of positive strategies and characteristics for handling life’s ups and downs.
It is possible to boost your mental wellness by finding ways to elevate your mood and increase your resilience. Four wellness-building techniques are described in Beat Your 2L Lull: Four Strategies for Success.
Below, members of the BC Law community share what they do to boost mental wellness in their daily lives. As you read, feel free to share what brings you joy or helps you manage stress by commenting below or adding #LawStudentWellness, #WorldMentalHealthDay and/or #IamBCLaw to your post on social media. And please share this post with friends.
“Law school has been a wonderful academic challenge, but I struggle with my mental health when I neglect my artistic side. I still figure skate and dance occasionally, but lately I have rediscovered joy in painting. Allowing myself to simply create gives my brain the opportunity to reset and unwind so that I can later focus more thoroughly on my studies.” – Erika Craven
“I go home to play with my dog Chappy and take him for walks to get fresh air as a study break and get me out of the house! He’s also a great study buddy and loves to nap at my feet.” – Alexandra Charron
“There’s nothing quite like taking a boat ride around Boston! I take my mind off law school by finding fun things to do around the city.” -Sarah Nyaeme
“I love my summer escapes to Maine. Discovering new places to eat lobster
is a critical part of the experience. Last summer’s winner was McLoon’s in
South Thomaston. Yum!” – Dean Rougeau
“There are a lot of things that bring us joy, but there’s nothing better than spending a crisp and sunny fall afternoon with your best friends from @bclaw! And the view isn’t bad either!” – K. Patzwahl (Left to right: @jfferraro @lisa_bennatan @samstiller1 @morganlam_ @karlwilliampatz @luke__brand)
“I get anxious in law school, and yoga has helped me feel calm and so has the cat, Momo, at yoga center. Momo always sticks her tail on my back while I practice and I love it.” – Gabbie Minyoung Kim
“To ease my mind when work gets busy, I love to ride my bike with my son, Will. When I told him about posting for #WorldMentalHealthDay, Will was funny, he said: ‘don’t you think more people would like it if there was a cute kid in the picture?’ Good point kid!” – Assistant Dean Jen Perrigo
“When law school gets tough, I enjoy taking time to explore Boston, including with friends outside of BC. I recently convinced my Colgate friend to make the trip from NYC!” -Courtney Ruggeri
“My roommate Jonathan (1L Section 1) and I (1L section 3) find peace at the end of our long law school days by decompressing with our succulents and discussing the day’s events.” – Benjamin Roberts
“Wind Therapy! You never see a motorcycle parked outside a therapist’s office.” -Patrick Mahoney
“[This is] a photo from my favorite spot in Boston Public Garden because it’s near the dog park 🙂 I love spending an hour or two here enjoying the sunshine, people watching, and remembering that there is life outside of law school.” – Courtney Foley
“Something that brings me happiness when I’m stressed is taking some time to cook a tasty meal with friends. It usually gives me a much-needed break from homework and an opportunity to focus my energy on something fun and exciting.” -Rekha Korlipara, 1L
“Being outdoors and being active makes me happy. No matter what I have going on, I always feel less stressed when I have spent the day in nature.” -Athanasia Kouskoulas, 1L
“Early morning yoga is key to my calm.” – Associate Dean Heather Hayes
“My biggest stress-reliever is my cat, Nora. She is always waiting at the door when I get home and constantly brings a smile to my face.” -Devon Sanders, 1L
“When I feel stressed, nothing can bring me more relaxation and joy than enjoying a beautiful sunset over the harbor!” -Theresa Kachmar
“I wanted to share a picture of me and my favorite form of stress relief, both as a faculty member and in my career in private practice. There is nothing like caring for another creature to lower blood pressure and provide perspective and companionship. I might add that Teddy Van Neste is available for pets to any students not fortunate enough to have their own favorite animal with them at BC.” – Professor Van Neste
Leave a comment to share what you like to do to manage stress and cultivate mental wellness in your daily life!
Mental Health Resources:
Boston College Counseling Services (free for students)
- On campus counseling, group therapy, psychiatrist referrals, and free subscription mental health programs
- Appointments can be made by calling 617-552-3310 or visiting the office in Gasson 001 during regular office hours.
LSA Student Wellness Committee
- Student Wellness Check-ins
- A safe space to talk, snack and relax
Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (Massachusetts)
- Free confidential mental health support
- Practical Tips Law Students Need for a Healthy Career Path
3L student Erika Craven loves hearing from Impact readers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.