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Our Purpose

Nathan’s Bequest Committee aims to deliver one clear message: “Mental Health: It's not a choice.”

Nathan’s Bequest Committee aims to draw your attention to the statistics and prevalence of depression amongst law students and, more broadly, the legal profession as revealed in the 2008 research study “The mental health of Australian lawyers: A challenge for the law schools and the Profession” undertaken by Professor Ian Hickie of the Brain and Mind Research Institute.

The recent report of Professor Hickie’s study – the largest ever survey of legal practitioners and students in Australia – also found that almost a third of solicitors and one in five barristers suffer levels of depression associated with disability. The survey of 2,413 lawyers included 738 students from 13 law schools nationally, 924 solicitors and 751 barristers. It found the level of distress was high in all three groups but was particularly pronounced in students. Moreover, Nathan’s Bequest Committee seeks to make a practical, tangible contribution to reducing prevalence of depression in the student body through development and delivery of its proposed education and awareness programme detailed below.

Depression has a significant effect on law students and law graduates, and is widely linked to reduced productivity, reduced quality of assessments and also reduced tendencies to develop skills and knowledge within the tertiary environment. We envisage entering into a dynamic dialogue with CALD to build on, refine, and go beyond the suggestions in this proposal.

The figures are startling. However, Nathan’s Bequest Committee recognises that depression is about more than just numbers. What is even more startling is that people that are often affected by depression remain unreported.

Nathan’s Bequest Committee believes that mental illness is not something of which to be ashamed. Suicidal thinking is a symptom of the illness and suicidal thinking is transient. Mental illness is no longer a taboo subject that is discussed behind closed doors. The more we talk about it, the more solutions we can help deliver.

  Last updated: 04-Nov-2010