Health, Wellness & Support Services

A legal education at Western Law encompasses more than attending lectures and studying for exams. It includes a healthy lifestyle to keep the mind, body, and emotions in balance; we call this balance "wellness." At Western Law, we believe that this balance is important to ensure that you are prepared to thrive through law school and beyond.

This website is intended to promote student wellness and to assist students in finding the resources they need to help cope with the stresses of law school. You will also find links to University and local services that are available to students who live with mental illness, addictions, or who have been the victims of sexual violence.

Western Law Mental Health and Wellness Services

Western Law has a staff member available to promote and support the wellness of law students. Sheldon Hill, MA, is a Registered Psychotherapist and Canadian Certified Counsellor. He has a strong background in the provision of psychotherapy to post-secondary students and has a holistic understanding of the experience of law students. Individual counselling appointments, group programs, and other mental health and wellness events and initiatives are offered throughout the year. All services are free and confidential for law students.

To schedule an appointment or to ask any questions, please e-mail lawwell@uwo.ca. Wellness Services are located in LB 117 and all in-person appointments will follow health and wellness guidelines due to the pandemic. Phone and virtual appointments will continue to be available for students.

Message from the Student Wellness Counsellor

Sheldon HillMental health is a complex topic and everyone has their own experience with it. Some may experience mild symptoms of mental illness on a daily basis while others may experience intense feelings that seem entirely unworkable due to unexpected upsets in their life. I recognize that the experience of law school is complex and that struggling in one area in your life, whether it be socially, financially, spiritually, emotionally, or physically may have a significant impact on your ability to succeed and excel as a student. As such, the counselling sessions that I offer are wide-reaching, with some students working through the academic and social challenges of law school and others discussing concerns seemingly entirely outside of the academic environment.

Counselling sessions can be helpful for you, but I always encourage people to do their own work first. This could look like accessing the Peer Support Program through the SLS or exploring Just Balance (see “Law-Specific Resources below”) to learn more about mental health. If you are considering counselling and booking an appointment, here are three important things to know about counselling and psychotherapy:

  • Counselling is a partnership between client and therapist. This means that the sessions are driven by your goals and I’m present to provide information, techniques, hold space and challenge you.
  • You do not need to have a mental illness diagnosis to access support. In fact, most of my clients do not have a diagnosis, but they can experience difficulty regulating emotions or managing thoughts.
  • Accessing support is a sign of strength and great insight. Attending counselling is not an admission that you are mentally ill or that things cannot get better. Rather, it is a commitment to exploring how you can do what is best for yourself, to take the time to gain insight into your experience, and to move forward in a way that balances success and wellness.

Finally, it is not uncommon for law students to attend counselling. Last year, I saw about 21 percent of the entire law student population! If you need the support, I’m here to meet with you to see how we can make things better for you and allow you to meet your academic potential. To book an appointment with me, send me an email at lawwell@uwo.ca.

Why Health and Wellness?

Message from the Associate Dean

Chris Sherrin

The study of law is an exciting and challenging experience. At Western Law, we offer a rigorous academic program as well as opportunities to get involved with numerous rewarding extra-curricular activities. We also strive to maintain a strong community, in which students, faculty and staff all support each other. However, the demands on students’ time can sometimes be overwhelming, particularly when combined with career pressures and the natural desire to maintain a personal life.

I encourage you to access whatever resources you need to help cope with the stresses of law school. Within Western Law, our Student Services office can help address concerns in a way that is effective, compassionate, and fair. Our student Wellness Committee and Peer Support program can help you to find healthy ways to alleviate stress and provide a friendly, confidential place to talk about whatever issues you are facing. Outside of the law school, there are many additional University and local services available to assist with a wide range of challenges.

It is important for you to cultivate habits of wellness now so that you are able to thrive in our profession, serve your clients, and lead fulfilling lives. Whether it’s physical exercise, fresh air, music, art, cooking or some other hobby, I encourage you to always make time for yourself. You will be better law students, and better lawyers, for it.

Christopher Sherrin
Associate Dean (Academic)

Message from the Assistant Dean (Student Services)

Mysty ClaptonNot so terribly long ago I walked the halls of Western Law as a student. Despite my advancing age, I still have a good recollection of the challenges I faced and the rewards I reaped during my legal education. One thing I remember particularly vividly is running the gauntlet of curricular, extra-curricular and personal pursuits and the toll that it occasionally took on me. As a student, I sometimes wondered, “How did I get into law school in the first place. I’m not sure I should be here.”

Over the years, I’ve learned that this “imposter syndrome” is not altogether uncommon among law students, which is really quite surprising when you think about it. There’s no question that law students are an impressive bunch of intelligent, high achieving individuals, so why are we often so hard on ourselves?

I don’t profess to have the answer to that vexing question, but I have come to believe that there are many things law students can do to combat the imposter syndrome, alleviate stress and anxiety, and become the healthy, successful professionals that they are capable of being. To that end, we’ve gathered together information and resources that we encourage you to use to help you make your time at Western Law healthy, balanced and successful. Better yet, take the information and resources with you throughout your legal career and your life beyond law school!

Mysty Clapton
Assistant Dean (Student Services)

Message from the Careers Office

Robyn MarttilaHaving been a commercial litigator for almost ten years I understand firsthand what a rewarding yet challenging career law can be.  The work is very intellectually satisfying and the opportunity to resolve clients’ issues gratifying, but if you are not careful the practice can consume you.  With the business structure primarily based on the “billable hour” there is always pressure to work longer hours and at times client demands can be overwhelming. The secret to a long and successful career in the legal profession is to learn how to achieve balance to the extent possible and make a commitment early on to maintain your interests outside of work. There will always be another file, another client to service. Leading a healthy, balanced life and taking care of yourself will not only make you a more productive lawyer but lead to greater career satisfaction.

Robyn Marttila
Director, Career & Professional Development Office

Resources at Western

Western University has a range of services for students seeking information on health and wellness, counselling services, crises and emergencies, and sexual violence. Read more

Read Western’s Mental Health and Wellness Resource Guide.

Counselling

Law school can be a dynamic, exciting and stimulating experience, with diverse intellectual pursuits and a wealth of new friends and acquaintances. Law school can also be stressful. Students sometimes face personal challenges, such as anxiety, depression, grief, relationship difficulties and substance abuse, all of which negatively impact academic performance. Counselling services can help you work through personal issues, which in turn can help you to improve or maintain your academic performance. 

Western offers counselling services to all students through Student Health Services and the Student Development Centre.

Campus Emergencies

In case of an emergency on campus, please dial 9-1-1 from a campus phone. You will be connected to the Campus Police (CCPS) dispatch, who will dispatch the Student Emergency Response Team and other emergency personnel if necessary.

To contact CCPS on your cell phone, dial 519-661-3300.

Sexual Violence

Western University is committed to providing and maintaining an environment in which sexual violence is not tolerated. For more information on Western’s sexual violence policies, to get help for yourself or someone else, and to report sexual violence, visit Western's Safe Campus website.

Law-Specific Resources

JustBalance

JustBalance is a support site aimed at promoting the well-being of law students in Ontario. 

Member’s Assistance Program (MAP)

MAP provides free and confidential counselling to those in the legal profession, including law students.

Ontario Lawyer’s Assistance Program (OLAP)

OLAP is a confidential provincial program for judges, lawyers, law students and their immediate family members. The services that OLAP provides include professional counseling, peer support, assessment, resource information and referrals to specialized programs and centres.

Canadian Bar Association – Wellness

Lawyers with Depression - Support Site 

Crisis Resources in London

The mental health services available on-campus and in community are often available during business hours. As such, if you experience significant distress, consider the below resources to keep yourself safe in the moment and follow-up with the appropriate resources after you are feeling more stable.

Canadian Mental Health Association – Middlesex Crisis Services

  • 24/7 Crisis Line (519.433.2023 or 1.866.933.2023)
  • 24/7 Walk-In Crisis Centre: 648 Huron Street, London

Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS) is available 24/7, via phone, text or chat to anyone thinking or affected by suicide. 

Sexual Assault Centre London: 519.438.2272

If you are concerned for your immediate safety due to thoughts of suicide or harming others, please contact 9-1-1 or attend your local emergency department.

Testimonials

"The counselling available through Western Law's wellness services helped me manage my stress and anxiety during the difficult transition into my first year of law school."

"Having a dedicated counsellor who understands the unique challenges law students face is invaluable. It's also great because it reduces wait times to access help. In fact, the first time I needed to speak with someone, I was able to get an appointment within a week."

"One of the reasons I chose Western Law is because they are the only law school that has a licensed counsellor available for students, which shows how much they care about the well-being of their students."