Law school can be a breeding ground for stress and anxiety, leaving students struggling with mental health difficulties, as well as alcohol and drug use problems. Because of the gravity of these issues, law schools have sought out new ways to try to intervene as soon as possible to get students the help they need — and they may have scored the jackpot.
A handful of schools have started to use a messaging platform called Early Alert, that sends texts to students each week, asking them to rate their feelings about a specific topic on a scale of one to 10, with questions ranging from academics and personal relationships to sleep quality and financial stability. Reuters has additional details:
[A]nswers in the mid-to-low range trigger a list of available resources, outreach by a law school staff member, an automatic call from a crisis counselor, or all three.
“It has had substantive impact,” said Chalak Richards, dean of students, Diversity and Belonging, at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law, which began using Early Alert in the spring of 2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced classes to go online. “I don’t have to wait for faculty to notice that one person in their class of 55 seems off.”
“Every single student I’ve reached out to has been exceptionally grateful for the contact and has said they did not think anyone even knew they were going through something,” Richards said.
Thus far, just a handful of law schools — Pepperdine, Roger Williams University, Wayne State University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Detroit Mercy — are using Early Alert. The service costs about $5,000 a year, a price that’s incredibly low considering it could ultimately help save a life. Please encourage your law school to adopt the Early Alert system.
If you or someone you know is depressed and in need of help, please call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (988) or a lawyer assistance program in your state (law students are also able to use these programs, despite the name). You can also get in touch with someone at the Lawyers Depression Project. Remember that you are loved, so please reach out if you need assistance.
Law schools try texting to monitor students’ mental health [Reuters]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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