Young people struggling to cope with exam stress turn to Childline

Girls 5 times more likely to seek help from Childline1

New figures show that Childline gave 2,795 counselling sessions about exam stress in 2018/19 - around a third in April and May2. Counselling sessions were most commonly with 15 or 16 year olds, when many are preparing for GCSEs3.

Young people's concerns included:

    • disappointing their parents
    • trying their best and still failing
    • excessive workloads
    • and feeling unmotivated to revise.

Other young people said worrying about taking exams was negatively affecting their mental health, causing some to self-harm or feel suicidal.

Childline is encouraging all young people to speak out if they're stressed about their exams, especially boys who are 5 times less likely than girls to talk to Childline about the pressure they're under.


Sophie's story


Sophie struggled with severe exam stress during her A-levels which caused huge anxiety before exams. She was regularly sick from stress before exams and it impacted her physical and mental health.

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Tips and advice to help reduce exam stress

  • Take regular revision breaks and try exercising.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable time and try get some sleep.
  • Try to think positively. Even if you don't feel like it, a positive attitude can help.
  • Remember: everyone's different. Try not to compare yourself to others.

  • Facilitate classroom discussions to get students talking about exam stress.
  • Encourage students to take regular breaks.
  • Encourage students to talk to you or other teachers about how they're feeling.
  • Help students to see exam stress as short-term.


References

  1. 1. 5 times as many girls (1,769) than boys (341) received counselling sessions about exam stress in 2018/19.

  2. 2. In 2018/19, Childline delivered 2,795 counselling sessions where young people were worried about exam stress.

  3. 3. The most common age for exam stress counselling was 15 with 21% counselling sessions, followed by 16 with 14% counselling sessions.