Is this the winter blues? Or is it something more?

It’s January.  It’s dark and cold.  Suddenly everyone seems extra unfriendly as they navigate the icy streets of Boston.  You don’t want to go out except when its essential, and even then you might not be willing to attempt it.  You can’t seem to get out of bed or you can’t seem to fall asleep.  Grades, jobs, friends, family, activities…so many things to stress you out.  Is this the winter blues?  Is it law school itself?  Or is it something more?

We all experience ups and downs in life, but sometimes the downs seem deeper and harder to dig out of.  If you’re feeling like you’re struggling to cope with daily life or if all the fun has gone out of things that you used to enjoy, YOU’RE NOT ALONE…and it might be time to ask for help.

Depression and anxiety is widespread, and stressful environments – like law school – can make it harder to cope.  BU has tremendous resources in the form of Behavioral Medicine at University Health Services, the Sexual Assault, Response and Prevention Center (SARP), as well as a whole host of other resources for short- and long-term support (see here for additional resources for your health).

DID I MENTION THAT YOU’RE NOT ALONE? Here are some facts about mental health here at Boston University.*

  • 20% of students screened positive for anxiety and depression [both 2010 & 2012]; 25% self-reported ever being diagnosed with a mental disorder
  • 53% in 2012 had at least one day in the past month when emotional difficulty impaired their academic performance, and 24% had three or more days [2010: 51% and 21%]
  • 8% of undergrads and 3% of grad students thought seriously about committing suicide in the past year (overall 6%)
  • 51% reported at least one episode of binge drinking in the past 2 weeks; this is significantly higher than the 44% in national sample (56% of undergrads binged)

Retention and Counseling

  • Of the full 2012 sample, 7.9% felt that counseling or medication had “quite a bit” or “extremely” helped them with their academic performance. In addition, 3% of all students sampled stated that counseling or medication had an extremely positive effect on their academic performance, i.e. they “would not have been able to remain in school otherwise.” This amounts to a total of over 900 BU students who were retained in school. Of the subset of these people who received counseling, 58% of them were seen at BU Behavioral Medicine.
  • Of the students who thought about interrupting their studies, 21% said mental health concerns were a reason for this. Of those who chose not to interrupt their studies, 3% said meeting with SHS clinicians was a factor in their decision.

These facts and figures are not meant to alarm you.  Rather, they’re meant to underscore that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and even more importantly, HELP IS AVAILABLE!!

BU’s Behavioral Medicine is familiar with law students and the pressures you face.  If you’re not ready to visit Behavioral Medicine, stop by the Student Affairs office on the 4th Floor to chat with any of us.  Or talk to your friends about how you’re feeling.  Or reach out to your student advisor or a trusted faculty member.  Just know that IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP – we’re all here to listen and support you with whatever you may be facing.

    * From the HealthyMinds Study, sampling 1452 BU undergrads and grad students in February 2010, and 1696 students in February 2012, amongst 2012 national sample of 25,000 students at 29 universities.  [Response rate was 48% in 2010; 42% in 2012]


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