More support needed for young people experiencing exam stress
Mental health charity, AWARE, believe more support is needed for young people experiencing exam stress following a report from ChildLine which shows the number of young people receiving counselling from them about their A-Level and GCSE results rose by 20% this year - with one in four sessions delivered in August.
According to ChildLine, the amount of calls peak in August when exam grades are announced and many of the calls are helping pupils who have fears of not wanting to disappoint their parents, failing and the general pressures linked to academic achievement.
The NSPCC says stress about exam results can affect young people’s ability to sleep, trigger anxiety attacks, depression, and eating disorders. In some cases it can also lead to self-harm and suicidal feelings, or make pre-existing mental health conditions worse.
Siobhan Doherty, Chief Executive of AWARE, said,
“In May of this year we saw the report from experts at the University of Manchester who investigated the suicides of 130 people aged under 20 in England between January 2014 and April 2015. The findings showed that contributory factors in the suicides included a physical health condition such as acne or ashthma; facing exams or exam results; bereavement and bullying.
“Every day we meet and hear from young people who speak openly about the pressure of exams and what is expected from them, these pressure are at times so significant that it can lead to depression and suicide. Our young people are calling out for support and often talk about not knowing where to go, or who to tell because of the pressure they are feeling to succeed and what they think is expected from them.
“Suicide is the biggest killer of people under the age of 35 in the UK with Northern Ireland having the highest rates of suicide in the UK. It is important that we look out for our young people, particularly at this time of year when they are clearly under a great deal of pressure and stress as they await their exam results.
“Being aware of the signs and symptoms of depression and talking to young people about mental illness is very important in ensuring a safe environment for them to open up if they are struggling.
“AWARE offer a Mood Matters Young People programme to 14-18 year olds in post-primary schools across Northern Ireland. The programme provides them with the knowledge and skills to maintain good mental health and build resilience in order to better deal with problems and challenges.”
Information for young people on looking after your mental health https://www.aware-ni.org/help-for-young-people.html
If you are a student suffering exam stress or need to speak to someone, please call the AWARE helpline on 08451 20 29 61 (Monday to Friday 9am - 1pm) For help and support outside of these hours, please call ChildLine on 0800 1111.