Law students and mental illness: Teaching to the 'psychologically distressed'

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Book Chapter

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McNamara, M. (2012). Law students and mental illness: Teaching to the 'psychologically distressed'. In K. Wood, D. Knight, & S. Kinash (Eds.), Scholarship of Teaching and Learning @ Bond, volume 2 (pp. 133-139). Gold Coast, Queensland: Office of Teaching and Learning, Bond University.

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© Copyright Office of Learning and Teaching, Bond University, 2012




Studying the law can be dry, uncertain, frustrating and, as discussed in this paper, 'psychological distressing'. Lawyers and law students suffer from mental illness at higher rates when compared to other professions and the population at large. Awareness of this problem has been raised in recent years. For example, Chaffey (2010) reports that prominent members of the legal profession have made their personal experiences with mental illness public to raise awareness of this problem.

The purpose of this paper is as follows:

1. To report on this problem from a teaching perspective;

2. Consider proposals for change; and

3. Identify practical changes the author can or should make to his teaching to address this problem.

This paper will not explore the possibility of teachers stepping out of their role as teachers to assist students with mental health issues. Practical changes to be considered are limited to the classroom setting, learning activities and forms of assessment.

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This document has been peer reviewed.