Childline urges young people in Sussex to speak out if they are struggling with exam pressure

Childline reveals thousands of young people have turned to them for support as they struggle to cope with the pressure of exam stress. 

New figures from the NSPCC are revealed as children all over the country prepare for their exams, with Childline delivering 2,795 counselling sessions on exam stress in 2018/19 – with around a third taking place in April and May.

Young people who were stressed about their exams worried about disappointing their parents; trying their best and still failing; having excessive workloads and feeling unmotivated to revise.

Many young people told Childline counsellors the prospect of taking exams was having an adverse effect on their mental health, with some coping by self-harming and others saying they were feeling suicidal.

The most common ages for exam stress counselling were with 15 and 16 year olds, as they worked towards their GCSEs.

Childline is urging all young people to speak out if they are stressed about their exams, especially boys as figures reveal they are five times less likely than girls to talk to counsellors about the pressure they are under.

The NSPCC has recently received over £2million thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, which will help Childline be there for more children who need help with exam stress or other issues.

Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder and President of Childline, said: “I hated exams, and I absolutely understand why they stress so many young people out. They can be important, but they shouldn’t be overwhelming.”

“This funding thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery will help us answer children who need us, so that we can be there for them when they have no-one else to turn to.”

The NSPCC has the following advice for young people taking exams:

  • Make sure you take regular breaks from revising and do some exercise
  • Go to bed at a reasonable time and try and get some sleep
  • Try to think positively – even if you don’t feel like it, a positive attitude will help you during your revision
  • Remember that everyone’s different – try not to compare yourself to your friends

Advice for parents and carers to help ease exam stress:

  • Don’t place unnecessary pressure on your children to gain certain grades
  • Encourage children to take regular breaks, eat snacks and exercise
  • Help them revise by leaving them the space and time to do so
  • Be supportive and help alleviate their worries by talking to them

Advice for teachers:

  • Facilitate classroom discussions to get students talking about exam stress
  • Encourage students to take regular breaks from studying for exams
  • Encourage students to talk to you or other teachers about exam stress