Bond University
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Abstract

Law students are well recognised for having high levels of psychological distress, but arguably, as a group their mental health literacy, distress and associated factors have not been as well-studied as medical and health science students. Further, financial and accommodation pressures on students, while featuring prominently in the general media, have been little studied in law students as has the impact of commuting on law students’ distress levels. This article reports on a 2013 survey of 579 Sydney Law School students which assessed their levels of psychological distress and examined a number of possible stressors including: age, having dependants, living circumstances, hours of paid work, familial financial support, hours of independent study, travel time, domestic or international student status and the amount of money spent on alcohol. The findings did not reveal any of these factors as clearly associated with stress. However, gender appeared to be the only significant predictor of psychological distress after controlling for degree type, as female students were significantly more distressed than male students although it is not clear why this might be so. This article also provides comparison with a similar 2011 survey of students at Sydney Medical School. Some differences between law students and medical students are discussed.

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