How exam stress can affect mental health

The weeks leading up to exams can be really tough for students. Not only do they have to worry about the material they’re learning, but they also have to contend with the added stress of worrying about how well they will do on the exams. This can lead to a lot of anxiety and even depression in some students. In this blog post, we will explore how exam stress can affect mental health and what students can do to manage it. Exam stress has almost doubled for GCSE’s and A Levels according to a recent insight from Childline. More than 200 sessions about exam worries took place in March 2022, nearly double the number of sessions in September 2021. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is still presenting a number of challenged to students that had to miss out on numerous lessons do to school closures and isolation, and 2 years following the pandemic peak students are still playing catch up leading to an increased level of stress and anxiety around upcoming exams.  

UK students have experienced a 22% increase in mental health problems, yet saw an 18% reduction in care in the eight years of a new study, which highlights a critical disconnect between the onset of symptoms and the availability of care. In such settings, many college students can experience recurrent, deteriorating, or early onset mental health and substance use problems, and yet likely not get adequate or adequate treatment.  

Exam stress is a common problem, and it can have a big impact on mental health. Generally speaking, people who are under a lot of stress tend to have poorer mental health outcomes. This is because stress can upset the balance of our hormones, and this can lead to a range of symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and more. 

What are the signs of stress 

Children and young people who are suffering from stress may 

  • Experience increased levels of worry 
  • Suffer from periods of not sleeping well 
  • Feel irritable 
  • Suffer from negativity  
  • Show symptoms of depression or negativity  
  • Increased levels of anxiety 
  • Worry about the future 
  • Loss of appetite 

exams are a stressful time for students of all ages, and this stress can have a negative impact on mental health. Exam stress can lead to anxiety and depression, and can even cause physical problems such as headaches and nausea. It’s important to find ways to deal with exam stress so that it doesn’t affect your mental health. Here are some tips: 

How to reduce exam stress  

  • Prioritise your time when revising 
  • Make a revision timetable to help manage your time and priorities 
    Exercise and eat healthily 
  • Cut out caffeine, nicotine and alcohol 
  • Take plenty of rest breaks 
  • Take breaks from social media when revising and in the lead up to the exams 
  • Practice mock exams at home 

When feelings of stress become too much to manage, this can affect our mental health. 

The pressure students face to succeed in exams can be immense, but what happens when that stress starts to affect mental health? 

Exam stress is a very real phenomenon, and while for many it’s nothing more than a mild inconvenience, for others it can be debilitating. According to the National Union of Students (NUS), exam stress can lead to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and even suicide. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by exams, it’s important to take action. 

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