The Problem with Poor Mental Health in Law School

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The Problem with Poor Mental Health in Law School

School can be stressful. There are tests, papers, and deadlines. Especially when it comes to graduate programs, the stakes can be high. As a result, many students struggle with poor mental health, and law school is no exception.

Law School Mental Health Concerns

Only 74% of students passed the Florida Bar in July of 2019, and this is after a big jump up from just 67.2% the year before.1 While the pass rates have recently increased for several states across the country,2 law school has a long reputation of being tough, and the numbers regarding poor mental health in law school don’t lie.

Dealing with law school stress is difficult and many students are struggling to handle it. Not only will some students struggle to pass the bar exam, but also many hopeful lawyers to be will battle with poor mental health during their time in school. While these students enter school with mental health rates that are similar to the general public, by the time they leave, anywhere from 20-40% will have a psychological dysfunction.3 In particular, several law school students struggle with depression. Some research suggests that depression among law students increases with each semester; before entering school, depression rates are at just 8-9%, but after 3 years in law school, this rate hits 40%.3 Without getting mental health treatment, this law school depression may lead to serious consequences like dropping out or even self-harm.

Anxiety is another common ailment of law school students. After surveying law students from around the United States, the American Bar Association found that 76% met the criteria for a generalized anxiety disorder.4 While anxiety is common, the average rate is only 18.1% of the general population.5 This data suggest that law school students are about four times as likely to have an anxiety disorder than their peers not going for a law degree. A law school anxiety disorder can be debilitating and can have lasting symptoms even after school is complete.

Often to deal with their poor mental health, law students will abuse drugs or alcohol. These substances can provide temporary relief, but with repeated use, dependence occurs, and programming for both problems like our dual diagnosis treatment in West Palm becomes necessary for them to stop. One survey on law students found that 20.6% of participants had problematic drinking6 and another found that 32% of these students had abused marijuana, cocaine, or prescription drugs in the past year.3


Improving Mental Health in Law School Students

Poor mental health in law school students is a major problem. While some resources are in place, many students are neglecting to get help for fear that it could affect their bar admission.7 Many schools are starting to push to offer more mental health law school programs and resources, but with such high numbers of mental illness and substance abuse, there is still a long way to go.

At BHOPB, we offer help for mental illnesses like anxiety and depression treatment in Palm Beach because no one should have to live with a debilitating mental health disorder. To get yourself or a loved one help for mental illness or a substance abuse problem, reach out to us today at 561-220-3981.



  1. Tallahassee Democrat Passage rate increases to 74 percent for those sitting for Florida Bar in July; FSU in top 3
  2. com – Bar Pass Rates Are Up. Is the Worst Over?
  3. Duke University – Law School Wellness Counselor Proposal Template
  4. Anxiety and Depression Association of America – Facts & Statistics
  5. Journal of Addiction Medicine – The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys
  6. CNN – Law students say they don’t get mental health treatment for fear it will keep them from becoming lawyers. Some states are trying to change that


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