Belfast Telegraph

More Northern Ireland pupils contact Childline over exam pressure

By Staff Reporter

Local children are increasingly turning to Childline for help and counselling as they struggle to cope with the pressure of exam stress. New figures from the NSPCC-run helpline reveal it delivered 93 counselling sessions to children from here in 2016/17 - up from 78 the year before.

Neil Anderson, head of the NSPCC in Northern Ireland, said: "Every year, we hear from thousands of children who are struggling to cope with the pressure to succeed in exams.

"For some, this can feel so insurmountable that it causes crippling anxiety and stress and in some cases contributes to mental health issues or even suicidal thoughts and feelings.

"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 also here 24/7 for any young person needing confidential support and advice."

Of the UK-wide contacts, more than a fifth took place in May as pupils faced upcoming exams.

Many told counsellors they were struggling with subjects, excessive workloads and feeling unprepared.

Children aged 12 to 15 were most likely to be counselled about exam stress, but this year saw the biggest rise - up 21% across the UK on 2015/16 - amongst 16 to 18-year-olds, many of whom will have been preparing for A-levels to determine university places.

Childline president Dame Esther Rantzen said: "I am very distressed that so many young people are turning to Childline because they have nobody else to confide in safely when they are desperately anxious.

"We need to recognise how stressful exams can be and reassure our young people and support them through these tough times "

Across the UK, Childline said it delivered 3,135 counselling sessions to children on exam stress in 2016/17 - a rise of 11% from 2015/16.

Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk

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