Shocking figures show the number of Birmingham students receiving counselling from Childline over their A-level and GCSE results has risen by nearly a quarter.
New statistics from the NSPCC-run helpline show there were 169 counselling sessions about exam results stress in 2015-16 at the service’s Edgbaston base – which is up by 23 per cent on the previous year.
One boy told experts that he felt like he would explode, waiting for his results.
The need for support peaks in August when exam grades are announced, with a third of exam stress sessions (57) happening in that month in the city.
This is up by 35 per cent on the previous August’s total of 42.
Not wanting to disappoint their parents, fear of failure and the general pressures linked to academic achievement are just some of the reasons why young people are contacting Childline.
Stress about exam results can affect young people’s ability to sleep, trigger anxiety attacks, depression, and eating disorders. In some cases it can also lead to self-harm and suicidal feelings, or make pre-existing mental health conditions worse.
One 15-year-old boy told Childline: “I feel like I’m going to explode waiting for my GCSE results.
“I have really high expectations and want to do really well, but I’m scared that I was so stressed doing my exams that I might not have done my best.
“I can’t sleep most nights because I’m constantly thinking about my results and feel like I’ve wasted my summer because this has been in the back of my mind the whole time. I don’t want to feel like a failure.”
Nationally, the figure increased 20 per cent from 937 in 2014-15 to 1,127 last year.
Girls were five times more likely to get in touch than boys.
Ziv Israeli, manager at Childline in Birmingham, said: “Awaiting exam results can cause lots of stress and anxiety for young people. These figures show that the pressure to perform well in exams is being felt by young people across the country and this can be difficult for them to handle. We hear from lots of young people each year who are really worried about their results and what the future may hold. If they want to talk Childline is always here to listen.
“It’s important to remember there is life beyond exam results. Disappointing grades are not the end of the world, even if it doesn’t feel that way at the time.”
As well as calling Childline’s free confidential helpline on 0800 1111 or visiting childline.org.uk, young people can also email trained counsellors or receive support online via one-to-one chat.