Student Wellness in the Spotlight as ABA Rallies Support Around Law Student Mental Health Day

Mental Health Day Logo

The American Bar Association is asking law schools and law students to take time this week to focus on mental well-being, self-care, and discussion of issues known to cause emotional distress for many. In that spirit, they’ve announced a series of events, starting on Thursday, October 8, to commemorate Law Student Mental Health Day, a tradition going back several years.

“2020 has been a year filled with challenges and stresses, and opportunities for us to commit to personal wellness are available,” said the ABA in their announcement about this year’s events. “Our efforts are needed more than ever.”

The ABA’s initiatives to draw attention to special needs of law students, given the intensity and rigor of law school, to say nothing of the well-known stresses and mental risks of the profession itself, helps Texas Law shine a light on the many resources and initiatives already available on campus to all students at The University of Texas, including law students.

“We pride ourselves on having a wide range of programs here for our students,” noted Dean for Student Affairs Elizabeth Bangs. “I’m especially pleased that we now have a counselor available to students year-round, the wonderful Maria Timm.” Timm began keeping an office in the law school during the 2019-20 academic year, though sessions are currently held remotely until staff can return to the law school buildings.

“We are also proud of our close relationship with the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program, which provides mental health and wellness resources to lawyers and law students across the state. Both the director, Chris Ritter ’98, and staff attorney, Erica Grigg ’01, are Texas Law alumni,” continued Bangs. “And our students themselves play a key role in our wellness programming. The Texas Law Disability Alliance regularly hosts an alcohol-free happy hour, and this week the Student Bar Association sponsored a mindfulness workshop and the Texas Law Yoga Club has held daily online classes.”

Another student playing a key role is Thaisa Howorth ’21, who has a dual degree in social work and designed the Texas Law Self-Care Resources website. “In the School of Law, self-care and mental health are enthusiastically promoted. Mental health orientation presentations and mental health days are appreciated and treasured by students and professors alike, but the culture around mental health is still markedly different in the legal profession,” explained Howorth in her April Student Spotlight. “I created the website because who else but law students can change the legal profession’s mental health culture?”

Added Dean Ward Farnsworth, “Part of our commitment to a great student experience is creating a supportive community and connecting students with everything they need to have a happy, healthy three years here. Law school is tough—believe me, I know. I was a student once, too! I want every student to know we have their back.”

Below, we list the scheduled activities for Law Student Mental Health Day along with UT’s services for students. And if you think you need help, a first step to take can be calling (512) 471-5017.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and Hook ’em!

ABA Mental Health Day Activities

Thursday, October 8

Mental Health Webinar, 4:30 p.m. EDT, Exploring the Intersection Between Racial Justice, Social Activism, and Mental Health

Join us for a national Zoom Webinar featuring Professor Rhonda Magee, author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness. Prof. Magee is a a law professor at the University of San Francisco and a new member of the ABA CoLAP. The webinar will include an introductions by Janet Stearns, Dean of Students, University of Miami Law School, and a member of the ABA CoLAP, and Ayat Nizam, law student, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and Chair, ABA Law Student Division.

Friday, October 9

National Workshop, 1:00 p.m. EDT 

National Workshop with the ABA Law Student Division, Law School SBA Presidents and ABA Representatives; featuring Jordana Confino, Fordham Law School, author of Where Are We on the Path to Law Student Well-Being (a report of the ABA CoLAP Law School Survey); Janet Stearns (Dean of Students, University of Miami Law School) and David Jaffe (Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Washington College of Law, American University) to discuss practical strategies that law students can undertake in the year ahead with your law schools, the ABA, and with each state bar board of examiners.

Saturday, October 10

Social Media Hashtag Campaign

A day of well-being. Each and every one of us can up our commitment to make the time to move around, whether outdoors or indoors, and stay healthy. Choose your activity, and post a picture using the hashtags #LawStudentWellness and #ABAMentalHealth.

University Advice and Resources

  • If you or someone around you is in immediate danger, call 911.
  • If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, the Counseling and Mental Health Center Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, every day, at (512) 471-2255.
  • If you are concerned about someone else’s behavior or have a COVID-19-related question or concern, contact the Behavior Concerns and COVID-19 Advice Line (BCCAL) at (512) 232-5050.
  • If you are experiencing a personal emergency including but not limited to family, housing, academics or finances, contact Student Emergency Services at (512) 471-5017.
  • The guide How to Support a Longhorn offers ideas on how students can support other students.