A soft hum fades into the background as a slightly sweet, calming scent fills the air. One student distracts herself with a puzzle, another enjoys the rocking and squeezing of an oversized massage chair, while a third sinks deep into a plush couch, headphones exuding relaxing music.
Despite final exams rushing on in earnest just outside the door, this scene hardly is illustrative of the clichéd stressful life of a law student. However, the Mizzou Law Wellness Room is designed to be that way: to break the cycle of pressure and provide a place of at least temporary respite for students.
“It’s designed to be a resource for students who feel they needed a brief escape from the often intense, high-stress environment of the rest of the law school,” said Harper Palmer, a Mizzou Law 2L who was integral in the design of the room. “I am a big advocate for protecting your peace and, because of this, having a space within the law school specifically for this was important to me.”
From hours-long exams to competitive grading systems to looming bar preparation, law school is undeniably stressful for every student who seeks a law degree. The Wellness Room was designed as a key strategy to help students combat these stresses so they can thrive through law school and as they begin their careers.
“The Wellness Room has helped me with stress by giving me an unexpected respite from the everyday stresses of law school,” said Nathan Troutwine, a 3L who uses the room a few times a week. “A place to hangout, maybe take a nap, or just sit in quiet contemplation, is exactly what the law school needed and I’m glad it is a resource we have right here in the building.”
The room, which also doubles as a maternity room, features comfortable couches and chairs, an essential oil diffuser, a Zen garden, soft blankets, a seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamp, and the piece de resistance: an oversized massage chair which provides full body massages.
“It is one of my favorite spots in Hulston Hall and allows me (and many others) to escape,” said Dayna Linneman, a 2L at Mizzou Law. “While in the Wellness Room, I try to take time to put my laptop, phone, and other devices away to truly ‘step away’ from the hustle and bustle of my day.”
Funding for the Wellness Room came from several different places within the university, including grants from the Student Bar Association and Mizzou Capital Improvement program, as well as the dean’s office, totaling about $5,000.
According to Mizzou Law Dean Lyrissa Lidsky, it is money well-spent as supporting student success and mental well-being both in the classroom and beyond.
“The Wellness Room is an important piece of a larger movement to teach our students healthy coping strategies for the stresses not only within law school, but as they graduate and move into the legal profession,” Dean Lidsky said. “Our profession suffers from much higher rates of alcoholism and other mental health issues than the larger population, so it is vital that we take a holistic approach to teaching our students. We have always taught them the law and how to apply it well, but it is also important to show them how to be successful outside the courtroom, personally and professionally.”
Mizzou Law students agree with the importance of this priority.
“I hope that it becomes a place that exhibits Mizzou Law’s genuine care for students and their mental health,” Harper Palmer said. “I would love for the intention behind the creation of the Wellness Room to seep into other areas of the law school so that students and professors alike become more aware of the importance of their own mental health, as well as the mental health of their peers.”
Dayna Linneman agrees with the notion and appreciates the resources provided by Mizzou Law to help her succeed.
“For myself, the Wellness Room allows me to take a moment and be appreciative for all that Mizzou Law provides for its students,” Linneman said. “Although attending law school has been one of the most difficult challenges I have faced thus far, having a place where you’re able to be comfortable and ground yourself is important (and in my mind necessary!) when you are in a rigorous professional program such as law school.”
While law school won’t be any less rigorous or challenging, Mizzou Law is certainly dedicated to finding ways improve the lives of students while they meet those challenges head on.