Children and teenagers across Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK are seeking help from Childline as they struggle to cope with the pressure of taking exams.
New figures from the NSPCC service reveal it delivered 92 counselling sessions last year (2017/18) to children from Northern Ireland who were who were struggling to cope with the pressures that the exams were putting on them. Across the UK as a whole, there were 3,135 counselling sessions on exam stress – just over a fifth of these took place in May.
Half of the counselling sessions were with young people aged 12 to 15 years old, some of whom expressed specific concerns about an overwhelming workload, pressure from their parents and worries about whether they would get the grades they want.
Young people contacting Childline also said the prospect of taking exams was having an adverse effect on their mental health, with some saying it was leading to them self-harming, feeling depressed or experiencing anxiety.
Unfortunately at the moment Childline counsellors are only able to respond to three out of four children and teenagers that reach out for help. The NSPCC’s ‘Are you there’ campaign is calling on the Government to increase funding so the service can be there for more young people who desperately need to talk to someone.
Mental Health Concerns
Childline manager for Northern Ireland, Mairead Monds, said: “Preparing for and taking exams places a lot of pressure on young people. Worryingly for some these feelings can act as a trigger to them developing mental health issues.
“It is therefore vital that family, friends and teachers are there to support children and teenagers during this stressful time, listening to them and keeping them calm and focused so they can properly prepare for the challenges to come.
“Exams are very important and we really want young people to do their very best. However, they should also remember that if things don’t go exactly according to plan there will be lots of other opportunities for them to express themselves and succeed.”
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