Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law has announced a new initiative, the Deans’ Mental Health and Law Student Well-being Advisory Council. The Advisory Council’s goal is to create open dialogue between law students and the administration about mental health and well-being concerns, promote resources both within the law school and the legal profession, and to destigmatize these issues among peers.
The Law School Advisory Council is an extension of a larger University Mental Health Committee, which promotes dialogue and resources to the wider community. The Advisory Council, overseen by Candace Centeno, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Nancy Whalen, Director of Student Affairs, meets regularly to discuss the challenges and obstacles law students face and how the administration can foster an environment to help them thrive both personally and professionally. While mental health issues have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Advisory Council recognizes that these are issues students face all the time, so they plan to continue their efforts and support once circumstances return to normal.
To ensure a broad perspective of input, a diverse group of students from across different areas of the Law School were chosen to serve on the Council. After receiving many applications, the following students were selected to work on the new initiative: Danielle Bland ’22, Melissa Durante ’23, Jessica Laske ’21, Jean-Claire Perini ’23, Anne Ringelestein ’22, Amin Tmimi ’23 and Crystal Yautz ’23.
“As part of this initiative, I hope to work with the administration to provide more support for students,” said Anne Ringelestein ’22, Student Bar Association Wellness Chair and member of the advisory board. “I understand how difficult it can be and I have always been a crusader to destigmatize mental health issues. There is no career where that is more necessary than the legal profession. Through this council, I hope to help the administration understand the mental health concerns of students and take proactive steps to providing a safe space and resources for the community.”
The first action the Advisory Council has taken is to provide reimbursement for annual student subscriptions to Headspace, a mindfulness and wellness mobile app. Please contact the Student Bar Association if you have any questions about this offering.