Over three million people experience mental health difficulties in Australia annually, with a 2010 study showing close to 50% of law students have experienced depression. Mental Health is clearly a significant issue within our community and the Law Student’s Society hope to provide information and means by which our community can address this issue.
The MULSS is dedicated to improving and to raising awareness of mental health amongst law students. In particular, the Wellbeing portfolio is committed to promoting a healthier and more balanced lifestyle for JD students, as well as tackling the significant problem of student depression and anxiety within MLS. In 2015, the MULSS will streamline two of its current publications into a single, comprehensive Mental Health and Wellbeing publication. Entitled Equilibrium, this publication will include articles on a range of Equality, Social justice and Wellbeing issues, as well as practical tips on maintaining a balanced law school life, worthwhile extra-curricular involvement and positive mental health.
Additionally, in 2016, our Wellbeing portfolio will continue to offer creative events aimed at reducing stress and anxiety within MLS. In recent years, these have included a ‘Success without the Stress’ seminar, presented by the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation; an ‘RUOK? Day’ breakfast; a screening of the College of Law’s ‘Resilience@Law’ video and even a small, farm animal petting zoo within the Law School.
Mental health is a critically important issue for both law students and law firms. The LSS Wellbeing portfolio seeks to support the welfare of all members of the legal community, and promote the importance of work-life balance for its employees.
What is Stress, Depression and Anxiety?
Stress is a normal part of life and can drive us to perform well in challenging circumstances, such as during assessment and exam periods. As law students we experience our fair share of stress, however excessive stress can become debilitating. Problems can occur when stress is a continuing issue, becomes overwhelming or we experience a particularly stressful live event.
Depression is a recognised mental illness characterised by a low mood. Low affect, loss of motivation, interest or pleasure, a sense of worthlessness or guilt, fatigue or trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating and suicidal thoughts can all be symptoms of depression. Experiencing (some or all) of these symptoms for a prolonged period (everyday for longer than 2 weeks) may be a sign of a serious mental illness and seeking help will aid in recovery.
The central feature of anxiety is worry, where the worry is uncontrollable and leads to a difficulty coping. Anxiety can make it difficult to concentrate and function. Symptoms may include restlessness, tiredness, irritability, difficultly sleeping, fear and anger.
Where can you get Help at University?
Student Wellbeing Co-ordinator
The well-being coordinator (Casey Hollway) is available to support students in an informal and confidential environment. Casey can work through University policies and services (such as special consideration) that are designed to assist you during difficult times.
You can read more about these policies here: Website
You can also make an appointment with Casey via the online advisor booking system: Online Booking System
Information and Self-Help Resources:
Free University Counseling and Psychological Services
The University of Melbourne offers free counselling services to students of UoM.
Appointments can be made by phoning 8344 6927 during normal business hours. Drop in appointments are also available to new clients who need to be seen urgently at 2 and 2:30pm daily. The counselling services at located nearby law school at 138 Cardigan St, Carlton.
As well as personal sessions, Counselling and Psychological Services run workshops on set topics during the semester, and towards exams these tend to focus on managing stress. You can view their workshop schedule online, here: Website
Melbourne Uni Health Services
The university also offers free GP services to students. A GP may be able to offer both pharmaceutical and therapeutic assistance to students suffering mental health problems. A GP is also able to issue a Mental Health Plan, which will enable you to visit a registered psychologist which is subsidised by the government.
To make an appointment call: 8344 6904
The Student Health Service is located at 138 Cardigan St, Carlton.
Talk to Your Tutors
If you are suffering from a health issue and are behind on your readings as a result, or being called on in class causes you excessive anxiety, you should talk to your tutor, or send them an email. Mental health is a prevalent problem amongst our industry and your tutors are likely to want to help you by creating a friendly and comfortable environment.
The Law School has a comprehensive website of university services available to assist students. You can find information about services available to you within the University and the general community by clicking here.
Having a Balanced Lifestyle
It is so easy to get caught up in Law School but as fabulous as the law building is, don’t let it become your entire life. Try to ensure you have a balance throughout each week to reduce your stress levels. Things as simple as catching up with (non-law) friends for a coffee, reading a (non-law) book, seeing a movie, going for a walk or to the gym, listening to music, cooking or playing sport can do wonders.
Take time out to do something you enjoy each day. ]
Physical activity reduces tension in your muscles and mind. Activities as simple as 10 star-jumps, walking around the block or taking the stairs to level 2 do wonders.
The LSS also offers Yoga, Mixed Netball, and holds a Running Group, and both the Student Centre and the LSS office have sporting equipment you may borrow.
Exercises that slow your breathing can help reduce tension and aid relaxation. Try sitting or lying in a quiet, comfortable place and breathe in for 3 seconds and out for three seconds. Also try tensing each muscle for 10 seconds working from the tips of your toes, right up to your shoulders and neck.
Suggested iOS apps for mindfulness meditation include Headspace and Smiling Mind.
Support One Another- Look Out for Your Friends
Law School is a wonderful community, please look out for signs your friends may be struggling. Friends and family are an important source of positive support to people suffering from mental health problems.
There are many resources online for the carers of people suffering from a mental health problem: Website
Where to Find More Information and Support
• Beyond Blue
BB offers 24hr telephone counselling services: 1300 22 4636
Offers 24hr telephone counselling services: 13 11 14
Information, support and help near you.
• National LGBT Alliance
Offers information and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other sexuality, sex and gender diverse people (LGBT).
• The Black Dog Institute
Offers information on depression, including great tip sheets, and where to get support.
• The Australian Law Students (ALSA) Depression Handbook
• Vic Lawyers Health Line
Offers telephone counselling services, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm: 1300 664 744