Regional jobs worries driving exam stress

12 Nov 2018
Regional students are much more worried about finding a job after school than their city counterparts, and its causing them stress at exam time, frontline youth service ReachOut has found.

The new research, released as part of the annual ReachOut@ExamTime campaign, found 60 per cent of regional students are showing worrying levels of exam stress, with nearly half (43 per cent) attributing it to concerns about getting a job after school. This is compared to one-in-three students living in capital cities (35 per cent).

ReachOut surveyed 1000 young people aged 14-25yrs old, 39 percent of which were located in a regional area. Students based in regional areas were more likely to seek professional help (36 per cent) for their exam stress from a medical or mental health professional versus city students (26 per cent).

However, in good news for regional parents, students living outside capital cities felt less pressured by their family (26 per cent) at exam time compared to city students (34 per cent).

ReachOut CEO Ashley de Silva said the findings showed the unique challenges faced by regional students, and encouraged young people and their parents to check out for a range of tips and tools to help them make it through school, university and Tafe exams.

“There’s no doubt that the combination of distance, drought and decline in local economies and job prospects in many parts of regional Australia are contributing to rising levels of exam stress outside our capital cities,” Mr de Silva said.

“It’s a big added pressure at exam time when you consider many regional students know they may be forced to move hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from their family just to find a job or continue studying.”

Mr de Silva said regional students were also twice as likely to seek help online (20 per cent) for their exam stress than city students (8 per cent).

“We understand that for many regional students geography can be an additional barrier to accessing face-to-face support services when it comes to exam stress,” Mr de Silva said.

“The beauty of ReachOut for regional students in particular is that it’s 24/7 and anonymous – meaning help is available privately anywhere, anytime with the click of a button.”

Other causes of exam stress shared equally by regional and city students were worries about the future in general (43 per cent), getting into their ideal course (35 per cent), and putting pressure on themselves (69 per cent).

“The best thing young people stressed about exams can do is to get help and get help early. It’s also important to look for ways to manage stress, including taking breaks, regular exercise, eating nutritious meals, and spending time with loved ones,” Mr de Silva said.

Parents can head to ReachOut/Parents for information about how to support their young person when it comes to exam stress.

ReachOut is accessed by 132,000 people in Australia every month. That’s more than 1.58 million each year.

Tips For Regional Students Worried About the Future

  • Remember there's not just one direct path to your future. It‚Äôs a series of choices and a fair bit of trial and error that you can learn from as you go.

  • When you‚Äôre feeling overwhelmed about the future, start by asking yourself a few questions. You can start with things like what do I enjoy, what am I good at, what lifestyle appeals to me, do I need to study? You could use the answers to put together a mindmap of all the possible options.

  • Focusing¬†on what‚Äôs within your control will increase your confidence. You could organise a chat with someone who has studied an area you‚Äôre interested in, attend TAFE or Uni Open Days or set up some work experience to learn more about different roles and industries.

  • Keep the self-talk positive. Remember you‚Äôre good enough just as you are now, regardless of what you choose to do with your life.

  • Even when exams are looming, make time for the things that make you feel good. This could be something like catching up with friends, going for a run, or even something really small like listening to your fave new podcast in your study break.

Tips For Regional Students on Eating to Beat Exam Stress

  • Try some simple food swaps. Swap a piece of cake for some wholegrain crackers with cheese and tomato, an energy drink for a fruit smoothie, or chips for a handful of nuts.

  • Get a reusable water bottle that you can pop in your bag and refill regularly to make sure you‚Äôre drinking plenty of water.

  • Use your study break to prep some healthy snacks. Cooking can be great for relaxation and mindfulness, plus you‚Äôll create some healthy snacks to help keep you away from the vending machine.

  • Don‚Äôt deny yourself the occasional treat!

  • Consider your caffeine intake as too much caffeine can increase your heart rate and create feelings similar to anxiety.

  • Check out ReachOut‚Äôs guide to foods that help our brain study.



Media contact

Tessa Anderssen   – 0411 708 587

About ReachOut Australia

ReachOut has been changing the way people access help since launching as the world’s first online mental health service over 20 years ago. Everything they create is based on the latest evidence and designed with experts, and young people or their parents. This is why ReachOut’s digital self-help tools are trusted, relevant and easy to use.

Available for free anytime and pretty much anywhere, ReachOut is accessed by 132,000 people in Australia every month. That’s more than 1.58 million each year.