With around a million teenagers set to find out their A Level and GCSE results in the coming weeks, a new study reveals the impact of exam pressure on anxiety amongst older teens.
A poll of parents (1) commissioned by specialist schools’ insurer, Zurich Municipal found the biggest cause of anxiety for children aged 15-17 is school related concerns including exams, with over half (57%) of parents citing this as the root of their child’s worry.
Anxiety levels amongst 15–17-year-olds have risen dramatically following the onset of the pandemic. Just over three in 10 (31%) parents with children in this age bracket reported their child as being anxious prior the Covid-19 crisis. Fast forward two years, and this has risen to over half (51%) of parents saying the same.
Parents of 15–17-year-olds who report their child as being anxious say this has manifested in a number of different behaviours. Nearly half (45%) of parents have noticed their child being more irritable or short tempered.
Other symptoms include their child becoming withdrawn (40%), being unable to fall asleep or waking up frequently in the night (34%), going online or using their phones more (28%) and self-harming (18%).
For parents and carers of young people receiving their results, the Our Safer Schools Initiative, led by safeguarding experts Ineqe Safeguarding Group in partnership with Zurich Municipal is sharing some tips on how best to give support:
Alix Bedford, risk expert at Zurich Municipal said:
“We know parents and carers are concerned about the significant upturn in anxiety that young people are experiencing. However, around one in four (24%) parents of 15–17-year-olds say they do not feel equipped to deal with any of their child’s anxieties. Mental health challenges are real and have a direct impact on peoples’ lives, including children. Exams can be a major trigger for anxiety and stress, whether it’s sitting them or getting the results. We hope this guidance will go some way to helping parents support their children during this challenging time.”
Colin Stitt, Head of Safer Schools at INEQE Safeguarding Group said:
“By following a step-by-step timeline of practical, supportive and achievable actions that parents and carers can implement in the key times surrounding exam results day, we can create a safety net for young people as they approach, dive into and deal with any feelings of uncertainty around their future.”