ChildLine expresses concern over rise in number of students under exam stress

One teenage male tells the service: 'I can't cope if things get any worse than this'

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The Independent Online

New figures released by ChildLine have shown a concerning rise in the number of young people seeking help for stress in the run up to the exam period.

The free 24-hour counselling service said it carried out 3,077 counselling sessions about exam stress to young people last year, a rise of nine per cent on 2014/15.

There was also a rise of 20 per cent of concerns about exam results, with 1,127 counselling sessions compared to 2014/15.

ChildLine, which is provided by the NSPCC, said the major themes being reported were not wanting to disappoint parents, fear of failure, and general pressures linked to academic achievement.

The service emphasised how worries about exams can affect young people’s ability to sleep, trigger anxiety attacks, depression and tearfulness, and eating disorders. In some cases, the counsellor said it also leads to self-harm and suicidal feelings.

One teenage male called the service and described how he “can’t cope if things get any worse than this.” He told the team: “I can’t focus on my work and I have tests coming up I haven’t prepared for.

“Everything is just piling on top of me. I know I just need to make a start, but I get too anxious to think straight, it just feels hopeless.”

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, acknowledged how the exam period can be “a very stressful and anxious time” for young people. He said: “As these figures reveal, the pressure to do well is being felt by an increasing number of young people across the country.

“We hear from lots of young people each year who are anxious, worried, or panicking about their exams and revision. We want to let them know they are not alone, and that ChildLine is here to listen to them.”

Mr Wanless’ comments have come as ChildLine launches a new video featuring advice and tips aimed at helping children and young people cope with exams.

Famous faces give their best advice on how to deal with exam pressue

The service has also advised young people take regular breaks from revising and do exercise, get plenty of sleep, try to think positively, and make sure they’re keeping hydrated.

The figures have come shortly after a study by the National Citizen Service (NCS) revealed the extent to which revision-related stress is affecting British teenagers.

The NCS polled 1,000 young students - aged 15 to 18 - to find almost 80 per cent were seeing changes in their behaviour, physical and mental health, or appearance in the run up to the exam period.

Natasha Kizzie, head of marketing at NCS Trust, highlighted the importance of students to have positive goals, and said: “We’d encourage parents to help ensure young people have something to look forward to when the exam period is all over.”

More information is available about beating exam stress and revision. Children and young people can also call ChildLines free confidential helpline on 0800 1111, or get support from a counsellor online through 1-2-1 chat

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