Help available to help combat exam stress

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As exams get under way later this month, young people are being reminded that support is available if they are starting to feel anxious or worried.

Children’s charity Childline has revealed that for the first time ever, school and education problems have emerged as a top concern among those contacting the helpline.

ChildLine bases in Aberdeen and Glasgow delivered almost 2,200 counselling sessions about the issue in 2013/14, making it the fourth most commonly reported concern to ChildLine in Scotland last year.

During that same period across the UK ChildLine saw a 200 per cent increase in counselling about exam stress specifically. There were also more than 87,500 visits to ChildLine’s webpage about the issue. Not wanting to disappoint parents, fear of failure and general pressures linked to academic achievement were all major themes.

Elaine Chalmers, Childline area manager, 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 that they are not alone and that ChildLine is here to listen to them.”

Stresses about exams affected young people’s ability to sleep, triggered anxiety attacks, depression and tearfulness and eating disorders. In some cases it also led to self-harm and suicidal feelings, or made them worse.

ChildLine is offering the following advice for young people: take regular breaks from revising and do some exercise; go to bed at a reasonable time and try and get some sleep, getting a good night’s sleep will help much more than trying to revise all night; Try to think positively, a positive attitude will help during revision; take some water into the test if possible, keeping hydrated helps concentration.

The ChildLine website has a special ‘Beat exam stress’ section for children and young people to visit. As well as calling ChildLine’s free confidential helpline on 0800 11 11 or visiting childline.org.uk, young people can also send emails to trained counsellors or receive support online via one-to-one chat. Advice for parents is also available.