Charities @ Work

200% increase in ChildLine counselling sessions about exam stress last year

As exam season gets underway, ChildLine can reveal that for the first time ever school and education problems emerged as a top concern among those contacting the helpline in 2013/14.

ChildLine carried out 34,454 counselling sessions mentioning school and education problems with a 200% increase in counselling about exam stress specifically. There were also more than 87,500 visits to ChildLine’s webpage about the issue.

Major themes include:
• not wanting to disappoint their parents
• fear of failure
• general pressures linked to academic achievement.

Stresses about exams can affect young people's ability to sleep, trigger anxiety attacks, depression and tearfulness, and eating disorders. In some cases it also led to self-harm and suicidal feelings.

Peter Wanless NSPCC Chief Executive said:
"The exam period can be a very stressful and anxious time for young people. As these figures reveal, the pressure to do well is being felt by an increasing number of young people across the country. We hear from lots of young people each year who are anxious, worried or panicking about their exams and revision. We want to let them know that they are not alone and that ChildLine is here to listen to them."

Thanks to donors like you, we can be there for children and young people who contact ChildLine about a whole range of worries. If you’re a parent to a child who is feeling exam stress, or a relative, here are the tips ChildLine are giving to young people:

Helping children and young people cope with exams

ChildLine advises that young people:

• take regular breaks from revising and do some exercise
• go to bed at a reasonable time and try and get some sleep
• try to think positively – even if you don't feel like it, a positive attitude will help you during your revision
• take some water into the test with you if you can — keeping hydrated by drinking water will help you concentrate.

Children and young people can visit the ChildLine website which has information about beating exam stress and revision. Children and young people can also call ChildLine's free confidential helpline on 0800 1111 or get support from a counsellor online through 1-2-1 chat.

Photography by Jon Challicom. The young person pictured is a model.