In a time wrought with stress and emotion, Vault Law turned to a mental health professional for some expert advice. Dr. Jaclyn Fleck has extensive experience working with university students—read on for her tips to law students on navigating these challenging times.
Vault: As you know from working with law students, law school has always been a stressful endeavor of its own. Now that students are dealing with a different mode of education, new grading policies, and job security fears, what tips do you have for managing all of this added stress?
Dr. Fleck: As cliché as it may sound, there is only so much we can each control at this time. The significant format changes are difficult and, likely, anxiety-provoking for most. I encourage students to acknowledge the anxiety they may feel about all the changes and unknowns while continuing to move forward with what needs to be done. This looks like asking professors for clarification as needed, remaining as flexible as possible with syllabus changes, and (if it is their thing) scheduling study groups via online platforms. Students can do their best to control how they internally feel by reaching out to others for support, taking advantage of mental health phone apps, exercising, and seeking mental health support.
Vault: For students struggling with loneliness in these times of mandatory isolation, is there anything you suggest incorporating into their daily or weekly routines to alleviate some of these feelings?
Dr. Fleck: It can be incredibly difficult to stay connected at this time. However, a little bit of effort can go a long way! I recommend using a phone feature like FaceTime or online resources such as Skype or Zoom to see others. Many are finding it comforting to just spend a few minutes talking to another person while others are spending their nights playing virtual board games or having a (responsible) virtual Happy Hour! Other ideas that may help (and do not involve other people) include playing your favorite music and dancing around, listening to podcasts or an audio book, going for a walk (if that feels safe to you), and reconnecting with some of your former hobbies.
Vault: We’re all feeling some level of stress and anxiety right now, but when should a student consider reaching out to a mental health professional? Do you have any tips for overcoming fear or perceived stigma for those who have never sought out therapy or counseling before?
Dr. Fleck: Stigma is something I often come up against in my profession, even with those who are pro-mental-health treatment! And that’s okay! Unfortunately, some parts of our society continue to send messages to us that mental health is not “real” or that we “should” be able to manage things on our own. However, this simply is not true! I recommend that students reach out to a mental health professional right away. Yep, at the first signs of even stress! Just because you contact a mental health professional to seek support does not mean you are signing up for a year of therapy. Many individuals find that they get the support they need in just one to six sessions! Deteriorating mental health impacts all aspects of our functioning and can negatively impact your physical health and ability to concentrate. In fact, students with deteriorating mental health often find that they are not working at their full academic potential. It’s pretty amazing to think that a few sessions with a mental health professional may make you feel better and do better in school.
Vault: Are there any great mental health or wellness resources you can recommend that are available online, or in some other format available from home?
Dr. Fleck: There are a variety of mental health resources that you can access right now. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org) has a wonderful website and a Crisis Helpline. Students may also enjoy downloading Headspace or Calm onto their phones for daily stress-relieving support; Calm also offers a special discount to many university students (simply look up “Calm College” for more information).
Dr. Jaclyn Fleck is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the Chicagoland area. Prior to establishing Prosper Psychological Services, LLC, Dr. Fleck worked as a Staff Psychologist at Northwestern University, serving as the liaison to Pritzker School of Law. She has also worked at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Purdue University-Calumet. She currently co-owns Prosper Psychological Services, LLC, which offers both individual therapy and psychological testing to adolescents and adults. Her approach to mental health treatment is collaborative, inviting the client to share their insight about their functioning and what they would like to get out of each session.
Dr. Fleck is currently offering telehealth sessions to accommodate social distancing. These appointments are available immediately and can be scheduled by visiting www.prosperpsych.com or emailing email@example.com Appointments are available with both female and male psychologists. Prosper Psychological Services, LLC is in-network with Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO, Cigna, and United/Optum insurances.
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