A growing number of young people in Northern Ireland are turning to Childline with worries about exam results.
In 2018/19, Childline’s bases at Foyle and Belfast in Northern Ireland delivered 153 counselling sessions with children and teenagers apprehensive about their grades – rising by more than 55 per cent since 2017/18.
Concern peaked in August, with a fifth of counselling sessions taking place during the month when young people receive their A-Level and GCSE results.
Reasons for young people seeking help from Childline include worries about whether they will get the grades they need to get into university and not wanting to let down their teachers and parents.
Children and teenagers also told counsellors they felt worked up and on edge, with some saying they were not able to sleep because of the stress of getting results.
One girl who contacted Childline said: “I’m really anxious about getting my exam results. I don’t think I will get the marks I need to get into my chosen university. I think I’ve done so badly. Before the exam I had a panic attack and had difficulties breathing. I’m so afraid of not getting the right grades. I’m terrified that I’ve messed it all up and I’ll ruin my future. I don’t know how to cope.”
Mairead Monds, head of Childline in Northern Ireland, said: “We know that waiting for and receiving exam results can be a difficult time for young people, but they should never feel like they have to deal with these worries alone.
“Reaching out to a parent, teacher or by contacting us at Childline will hopefully put things in perspective and make them feel more positive about receiving their exam results and what comes next.”
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.
“Childline is there for them if they don’t know who else they can talk to. If it matters to you then it matters to us.”
Childline has the following advice for young people:
- Don’t panic if you don’t get the results you were hoping for.
- You may have to make some tough decisions but remember you always have options and you can get help.
- Everyone is different so try not to compare your results to your friends or classmates.
- If you’re disappointed with your results it can help to talk to a teacher or someone you trust about how you’re feeling.
Advice from the NSPCC for parents and carers include:
- Try not to place pressure on your children to gain certain grades
- Your child may find it hard to talk to you about their results so be patient and supportive until they feel ready to open up about how they feel.
- Encourage your child to take their time to think about what they want to do next. There’s no need to rush into a decision straightaway.
- Help them think about their choices by writing down a list of pros and cons for each of their options.
Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or at childline.org.uk