U of S class helps law students find happiness

By the end of their first year in law school, about 40 per cent of students will suffer from depression.

Professor Marilyn Poitras says about 40% of law students will suffer from depression

University of Saskatchewan professor Marilyn Poitras says about 40 per cent of law students will suffer from depression. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

For many law students, getting a degree can lead to high-paying jobs. But a law professor at the University of Saskatchewan says it doesn't buy happiness.

We have students that say, 'I wish I was dead.'- Marilyn Poitras

Marilyn Poitras, a professor at the College of Law, has started a new class, affectionately known as Law and Happiness. The seminar is a way for students to deal with issues like depression, alcoholism, and family breakdowns. 

The class requires that students keep a weekly journal, and it offers them an opportunity to talk about the stresses that come with studying and practising law. 

"We have students that say, 'I wish I was dead,'" Poitras said. "We have students that throw up regularly before exams. We have students that, (when) exams start showing up, then all of the breakdowns happen. The families start to disintegrate."

By the end of their first year in law school, about 40 per cent of students will suffer from depression. 

Poitras says very few law schools in Canada deal with depression in the classroom. But she says it's already attracting students at the U of S.

"Law and Happiness at the law school has also turned into a venue where the students get to talk about what they're actually living through," she said. "So it's became a really close-knit group."

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