The ‘I Belong in the LLB’ program is a proactive method to build resilience and manage the stress levels of QUT Law students throughout their degree, amid increasing concerns about the psychological wellbeing of Australian tertiary students.
Research done by the Brain and Mind Research Institute (University of Sydney), reflects that approximately 35% of law students suffer from high or very high levels of psychological distress which is transferred into the legal workplace upon graduation. In the same study, approximately 30% of solicitors and 17% of barristers reported similar distress.
As a consequence, the QUT Faculty of Law aims to ensure students develop measures to improve their own wellbeing and are able to become happy, healthy and competent future professionals, in any field.
A team of staff members, including James Duffy, Kylie Pappalardo, Anna Huggins and Will James, have been involved in developing an interactive program that engages students with the important issue of mental health.
The program is integrated into the Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (LLB) curriculum through core and elective subjects such as Dispute Resolution, Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Professional Identity and Reflective Practice.
In addition to this, the Faculty of Law has also invested considerable resources in a student zone, which provides students with valuable information on topics including resilience and self-exploration, and offers guidance on how to manage the pressures of law so life balance is achievable.
Support is also available to students in variety of ways, including a buddy program, exam preparation support, career advice and support, and connections with QUT Counselling.
James Duffy, Lecturer at the QUT Faculty of Law, recognises the importance of the program and its benefits for students both now, and in their future workplace.
"The I Belong Program acknowledges that aspects of legal education and practice are stressful. To be a happy, healthy, competent law student and future legal practitioner, you need to be at your cognitive best.”
“Clear, clever and creative thinking go hand in hand with psychological wellbeing. Our focus then, is on creating a culture that values the importance of mental health, and equipping students with the knowledge and skills that promote resilience and adaptiveness,” he said.
Other activities organised by the ‘I Belong in the LLB’ include the Law School’s Wellness Wednesday which is held during the University’s Mental Health Week in October. Activities include a mental health awareness breakfast sponsored by Allens, free popcorn and fairy floss, colouring-in in the moot court, information sessions, and a visiting baby animal farm.
John O’Brien, Student Success Coordinator and Associate Lecturer at the QUT Faculty of Law, describes how the program will develop in the future.
“2016 sees the continuation of this sector-leading program, plus includes new linkages with our orientation activities. It is envisaged that the program will continue to grow in the future in order to provide our students with a range of support to help them succeed, both at their studies and beyond.”
If you are a QUT student and you or someone you know needs help, do not hesitate to have a conversation with QUT Counselling Services free of charge.