Charity reports rise in number of young people suffering exam stress

Childline has seen a rise in the number of young people suffering exam stress. Picture: Tom Hull
Childline has seen a rise in the number of young people suffering exam stress. Picture: Tom Hull

Scores of young people are turning to Childline for help as they struggle to cope with the pressure of exam stress.

New figures from the NSPCC-run service reveal that its Nottingham base delivered 339 counselling sessions on exam stress to children in the UK in 2016-17 – a rise of 27 per cent from 2015-16.

Nationally across its 12 bases Childline carried out 3,135 counselling sessions in 2016-17.

More than a fifth of these took place in May as pupils faced upcoming exams with many telling counsellors they were struggling with subjects, excessive workloads and feeling unprepared.

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

Anne Partington, a volunteer at the Nottingham Childline base, said: “I have been shocked by how many 16, 17 and 18-year-olds get in touch to discuss exam stress.

“These young people are not always sure how to explain their concerns – and that’s why we’re here, to help them articulate their worries.”

Anne believes that keeping channels of communication open with their children is vital way of parents and carers alleviating exams pressure.

She added: “You can’t possibly know how much work a child is doing but you can offer simple practical advice.

“Tips like a revision timetable and suggesting they don’t get too far ahead of themselves can help.

“It is tricky when you go straight from one goal to the next – you go from GCSE to A-Levels, from A-Levels to university – but worrying too much can be counterproductive.”

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.

“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.

“It is vital that young people are supported by family, friends and teachers during the exam period.

“Childline is also here 24/7 for any young person needing confidential support and advice.”

Children and young people can contact Childline for free on 0800 1111 or