2020 has been a challenging year. For law students, the normal stressors of law school have been compounded by health fears related to COVID-19, a switch to online learning (and for some an online bar exam), a divisive presidential election, calls for social justice reforms and natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes. So this year, the ABA’s Law Student Mental Health Day had increased importance. Recognized annually on October 10, Law Student Mental Health Day is an initiative of the ABA’s Law Student Division and Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs.
Since the majority of UIC Law students are attending school remotely this semester, the Office of Student Life rolled out a virtual slate of Wellness Week activities that students could complete from home throughout the week of October 5-10. Some events, such as a mindfulness meditation session run by the Neurodiverse Law Student Association and an ABA Webinar on Racial Justice, Social Activism and Mental Health took place live via Zoom. Other options included recommended readings; online activities such as podcasts and wellness screening tools; participating in online discussion boards to caption funny animal photos or build a school-wide finals playlist; and opportunities to help others through virtual volunteering or writing a handwritten thank you note to a friend.
One student, 2L Zahra Ermoian, found that writing to a friend to express gratitude was a good way to jumpstart her wellness week. It forced her to take a break from her busy schedule and focus on something meaningful. Ermoian’s advice to her fellow students is to schedule time for wellness into a regular schedule. “Work will always be there, whether you take time for self-care or not,” Ermoian said.
Even though Wellness Week has ended, the mental health of UIC John Marshall Law School’s students, staff and faculty is always a top priority. The Law School Counseling Center, a partnership with Sankofa Psychological Services, LLC, is currently offering telehealth services for any students that may be interested. Additionally, a list of mental health resources can be found on the Law School’s website, including information about the Lawyers’ Assistance Program.
For any UIC Law students looking for additional wellness activities, they can visit the eCommons portal (https://webapps.law.uic.edu/ecommons) for access to the many resources that were shared during the week.