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Overwhelming exam stress 'on the rise among schoolchildren'

12/05/2017 Joanna

A new report has highlighted a need for teachers to be more aware and supportive of pupils who may be feeling overwhelmed as a result of exam-induced stress.

Children's support service Childline has released figures showing that it has delivered 3,135 counselling sessions on exam stress in 2016-17, representing a rise of 11 per cent over the past two years.

One in five of these sessions took place in May, a time when upcoming exams loom large in the consciousness, with many youngsters telling counsellors they were struggling with challenging subjects, excessive workloads and feeling unprepared.

Exam stress has been shown to lead to a number of debilitating mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, panic attacks, low self-esteem, self-harming and suicidal thoughts. For those already affected by such issues, the stress of examinations can make them worse.

Childline's data showed that 12 to 15-year-olds were most likely to be counselled about exam stress, but this year, the biggest rise was seen among 16 to 18-year-olds, with calls up 21 per cent in this group.

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.

"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 recommending that children suffering exam stress should be encouraged to take regular breaks from revision and to get some physical exercise, as well as to sleep at a reasonable time and stay hydrated. The importance of positive thinking was also emphasised.

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