David Jaffe releases survey on law student wellness
Washington College of Law Dean of Students David Jaffe this summer released the results of his latest survey on law student wellness, and the findings show that law schools can do more to support students’ emotional and mental health.
“‘It is Okay to Not Be Okay’: The 2021 Survey of Law Student Well-Being” was published in the University of Louisville Law Review. Co-authored by Jerry Organ at the University of St. Thomas and Katherine Bender at Bridgewater State University and the David Nee Foundation, it is a continuation of a 2014 study conducted by the same researchers.
The research team was interested to see what changed over the past seven years and surveyed students from 39 law schools across the country, Jaffe said. Among the findings:
- Almost double the number of students surveyed in 2021 reported a diagnosis of depression or anxiety compared to students surveyed in 2014.
- Fewer students engage in binge-drinking and the use of prescription drugs without a prescription compared to survey respondents in 2014.
- An “overwhelming” number of students have experienced trauma, with one in five screening positive for PTSD.
- There was an increase in students who reported needing help for an emotional or mental health problem during the past year, and a “significant” increase in the number of students who reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year and in their lifetime.
“If we’re not addressing this in law schools, we’re just passing the buck onto the legal profession,” Jaffe said. “When these issues present themselves, some would say it’s our obligation as educators to find some way to do it. We need to offer proactive support so that law students can go on to be productive and supportive to their clients.”