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Stress of exams sees more young people contacting ChildLine

By Rebecca Black

Published 21/05/2016

A children's helpline has seen a spike in calls due to exam stress - and the cries for help are growing year on year
A children's helpline has seen a spike in calls due to exam stress - and the cries for help are growing year on year

A children's helpline has seen a spike in calls due to exam stress - and the cries for help are growing year on year.

Thousands of young people here are currently sitting their GCSE and A-level exams, while others face end-of-year tests.

ChildLine said it had recently seen a rise in calls about exam stress and had issued guidance to help combat such pressures.

Figures from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) show a rise in the numbers suffering from anxiety during the May/June exams, and also ahead of results day in August.

Throughout the UK the NSPCC carried out 3,077 counselling sessions about exam stress with young people last year - a rise of 9% on 2014/15. There was also a rise of 20% in those raising concern about exam results, with 1,127 counselling sessions compared to 2014/15.

ChildLine service manager in Belfast Mairead Monds said: "We don't have our 2015/16 figures yet, but, anecdotally, we know that there is an increase in the number of young people contacting us about exams.

"Then there was also a 20% rise in concerns about exam results, so young people ring us both about stress during the middle of exams, and also about the results coming out.

"We see another peak around about August time."

Ms Monds said the most common issue raised during the phone calls from young people was the fear of disappointing their loved ones.

She explained: "Young people would tell us they are afraid of failing exams.

"They are afraid of disappointing their parents.

"We know in Northern Ireland we have a culture of high achievement, and our schools can be highly-achieving schools, which can affect young people and cause anxiety, sleep issues, depression, moodiness, tearfulness and eating disorders."

ChildLine has issued advice to young people sitting exams.

It recommends that they take regular breaks from revision, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, try to think positively, and take plenty of water into the exam.

  • Further advice on coping with exams can be found on the NSPCC website at https://www.nspcc.org.uk. ChildLine is available 24/7 on 0800 1111.

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