Obiter Dicta Issue 5 - October 28, 2013

Vol 86 Issue 5 The Definitive Source for Osgoode News October 28, 2013 COULD THIS BE A SOURCE OF MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AT OSGOODE? THE CO-PRESIDENTS OF THE MENTAL HEALTH LAW SOCIETY THINK SO. Mental health at law school ROMA LOTAY and ALICIA JAIPERSAUD Contributors We need to talk about it. Why is mental health such a taboo topic, especially among law students? The fact is, many of us are going through the same thing, so we should talk about it. So, let’s have the talk. What is it about law school that makes law students believe they do not belong? Why do so many of us feel that we got in by fluke? What are the pressures that law students are facing? In our first year at law school, we are introduced to the curve. Many of us are used to getting As and, all of a sudden, we receive our first semester grades and begin classifying ourselves as B students. We are told by upper year students that most people get Bs and it is not a big deal, but for some reason, that doesn’t help. We think by not getting any As, there are no job opportunities for us. This is simply not true. We change our study strategies practically every week because we let the chatter around us get to us. In our second year at law school, we somewhat learn how to accept the curve and are a bit more confident with our study habits, but become obsessed with something else – OCIs. The atmosphere in class suddenly changes. We think if we don’t get a summer position, our careers are over. Once again, this is simply not true. It is not the end of the world if you don’t secure a summer position. Life really does go on. In our third year at law school, we are supposed to finally see the light, but do we really? Many students are still worried about securing an articling position. All these problems are common to most, if not all, law students. Yet we are still quite reluctant to have an open and frank discussion about these issues. Why is that? One possible reason is our fear of judgment. As students, we are told about the importance of professionalism and constantly engage in managing our image to ensure we are always presented in the best possible light. In this competitive atmosphere at law school, we often worry that talking about our own mental health issues are a display of weakness that could harm our future career prospects. The unfortunate stigma surrounding mental health issues still exists in society and, in some ways, law school may increase the fear of being susceptible to this stigma. Along with this image-managing, we are often afraid about fitting in. We become preoccupied with the whispers around us that we begin to amend our behaviour to try to convince others – and ourselves – that we belong. We begin to compare ourselves to our conceptions of the ideal law student: the straight-A individual who secures a rare first-year summer position, participates in OCIs and acquires a prestigious second-year summer position, articles at that » continued on page 9 In this issue... All about the Senate pages 2, 3, and 11 Elephants page 5 Jurisfoodence pages 8 and 13 Last minute costume ideas page 16