Many people worldwide suffer from depression or any other form of mental illness. Studies show that 1 in 15 adults suffers depression in any given year while 1 in 6 suffers depression at least once in their lifetime.
The Global Health data exchange estimates that 251 to 351 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Signs of depression include lack of appetite, sleep, or too much sleep. In addition, the patient feels hopeless, has suicidal thoughts, long-term sadness, lacks interest in activities they used to enjoy, and social isolation.
My quest to establish whether students in Uganda's Law schools suffer from depression landed me in Jane. She measures 167 cm tall and is what you would describe as brown. I found her sitting alone at the University Terrace. For anonymity purposes, she asks me not to mention the university. Huh, I said fine by me. Her smile cracks through her dry lips as it spreads through her face replacing the hollow expression she wore earlier while revealing her shiny and even teeth. I think she is beautiful. I introduce myself while extending my arm toward her for a handshake. The shirt I wear this afternoon is branded with the logo of TheJudicialExponent. When Jane glances at it, she knows that I am a writer. She is timid though curious. While they say curiosity killed a rat, Jane is about to tell me her life story.
Jane is a finalist student and awaits her graduation. It is heartbreaking to hear her explain the lonely feelings within her and the tragic end to her happiness. She is not particularly excited about anything despite her upcoming graduation.
To sum it up, Jane is depressed. From my long conversation with her, she has suffered depression almost her entire life because Jane is often unhappy.
However, Jane has been a law student. These are often top students in high school, very intelligent. Young ones look upon them, and their future is thought of as bright. Yet, amidst societal expectations, these students battle various mental illnesses. The question to our readers is, "does law school teach her students life skills to cope with life's challenges." No. Throughout the four years at law school, students are taught everything to deal with law, fairness, and Justice- to become great lawyers. However, how can one be a great lawyer when one suffers from mental illness?
A depressed person cannot make a good lawyer despite her excellent grades.
The score cannot make a good lawyer because such a person needs to be held; therefore, they cannot help others with the law.
In conclusion, it is paramount for law schools to include life skills in their students. Besides learning the law, these students are human, and outside the class, they have lives to live. Therefore, going through school should be a place to come out whole but not half-baked.
Uganda is one of the countries with the highest unemployment. Depression is a significant contributor to that economic issue. If addressed, students would be more ready to face the world and form part of the solution to its challenges.
Reach out to a friend. Let us talk about these hard-to-talk-about topics.
The author Beatrice Mbabazi is a Ugandan Lawyer and Content Manager at The Judicial Sound Exponent. E-mail: [email protected]