Childline report 50% increase in youngsters seeking help due to anxiety over exams

Rising numbers of youngsters are seeking counselling due to anxiety over exam results, according to Childline.

The NSPCC-run service said it had provided more than 1,400 counselling sessions to children and young people regarding exam worries in 2018/19 – up around 50% on four years ago.

Last year, a fifth of these sessions took place in August – the month in which teenagers across the UK receive the results of major qualifications such as A-levels and GCSEs.

In total, 1,414 counselling sessions on exam result worries were delivered in 2018/19, Childline said, compared to 937 in 2014/15 – an increase of 51%.

Young people are asking for help for a variety of exam-related reasons, including fears over whether they will get the grades they need to secure a university place and concerns over letting down their parents and teachers.

Others are telling counsellors they feel worked up or on edge, with some reporting that they are unable to sleep, Childline said.

One young girl who contacted the helpline said she had a panic attack before an exam, and was “so afraid of not getting the right grades”, Childline said.

Dame Esther Rantzen, founder and president of Childline said: “I am sure we all felt nervous at exam time, but the possibility of failure has taken on a greater importance than ever before, and is deeply worrying our children.

“Young people are turning to Childline when they become so anxious that they are overcome with panic or lose precious sleep. And this is reflected in the rising number of Childline’s counselling sessions.

“I would like to remind young people that whatever happens with their exam results there will be plenty of opportunities for them to go on and succeed in their lives. We all have different strengths and qualities that make us who we are.”

The helpline has issued a series of tips for teenagers and parents to help them deal with exam season, including suggesting young people should not panic if they do not get the results they were hoping for, and to try not to compare themselves to their friends as everyone is different.

Parents and carers should try not to put pressure on youngsters to achieve certain grades, Childline recommends, and to be patient and supportive until their child feels ready to talk about how they feel about their results.

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