The NSPCC’s Childline service is offering tips to young people in East Sussex to help them cope with exam stress.
The advice comes as new figures reveal the NSPCC-service delivered 3,135 counselling sessions on exam stress in 2016/17 – a rise of 11% over the past two years.
Worryingly, young people are consistently telling counsellors exam stress can contribute to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, excessive crying, low self-esteem, self-harming and suicidal thoughts, or even make pre-existing mental health conditions worse.
More than a fifth of the counselling sessions took place in May as pupils faced upcoming exams with many telling counsellors they were struggling with subjects, excessive workloads and feeling unprepared.
Those most likely to be counselled about exam stress were 12-15 year olds but this year saw the biggest rise amongst 16-18 year olds - up 21% on 2015/16 - many of whom will have been preparing for A-levels to determine university places.
Childline has the following advice for young people sitting exams:
Advice for parents and carers to help ease exam stress:
Advice for teachers:
A series of videos dedicated to helping young people through exams are also available on Childline’s YouTube channel.
Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, said: “Every year we hear from thousands of children who are struggling to cope with the pressure to succeed in exams. For some this can feel so insurmountable that it causes crippling anxiety and stress and in some cases, contributes to mental health issues or even suicidal thoughts and feelings.
“Exams are important but worrying and panicking about them can be counterproductive, leaving young people unable to revise and prepare. It is vital that young people are supported by family, friends and teachers during the exam period to help them do the best they can. Childline is also here 24/7 for any young person needing confidential support and advice.”
Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder and President of Childline, said, “I am very distressed that so many young people are turning to Childline because they have nobody else to confide in safely when they are desperately anxious.
“We need to recognise how stressful exams can be, and reassure our young people and support them through these tough times which I remember only too well in my life, and my children’s lives.”
Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or online.