Eighty per cent of school students are keeping exam stress bottled up, while also increasing pressure on themselves to perform, with parents encouraged to ReachOut@ExamTime to help teenagers beat the books and the blues.

Launching their annual awareness campaign ahead of final exams kicking off nationally for over 200,000 students from tomorrow, ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said a recent survey showed one-in-two high school students were displaying worrying levels of stress over exams, with the number one source of pressure coming from themselves.

Mr Nicholas said ReachOut was therefore increasing this year’s campaign focus on parents to help families identify the signs of exam stress and “break the cone of silence”, as well as ensure they knew help was just a click away.

“Australian parents have done a great job in raising a generation of ambitious, independent young people, with our research showing family pressure is not even in the top three reasons for exam stress,” Mr Nicholas said.

“The danger is this increasing quest for perfection and keeping up appearances among modern school students may be masking a deeper problem that parents may not be aware of and need to be on the lookout for.”

Mr Nicholas said the findings were not surprising, with the increased focus on school performance determining university entry and future career paths combined with increased social pressures and distractions creating a “perfect storm” for exam stress.

“The key for parents is to not take this silent stress personally or see it as a sign of failure.

“Be calm, caring and, most importantly, listen while they do the talking. If they don’t want to chat, see if there are physical things like chores, travel, and after-school jobs where you can take a bit of pressure off until exams are over.

“So, if you’re not sure if they’re hitting the books too hard or you’re looking for some helpful advice or coping strategies, you can explore more at ReachOut.com in the privacy of your own devices anywhere, anytime.”

ReachOut is Australia’s leading online mental health organisation for young people and their parents. Their practical support, tools and tips help young people get through anything from everyday issues to tough times – and the information they offer parents makes it easier for them to help their teenagers, too.

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.

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ReachOut’s top 5 tips to help parents identify and manage exam stress

Look out for the signs that your teenager might be stressed. If they’re having problems sleeping, are being increasingly irritated or have trouble concentrating, finding it hard to connect with others, or feeling depressed, panicky or anxious they could be overly stressed and it might be time to do something.

Find an opportunity to talk about symptoms of stress with your teenager. Understanding what makes them stressed can help them build the skills to cope better and reduce stress in the future. There are lots of things that they can do to cope with stress – let them know that ReachOut has lots of tips and tricks to help them get through this tough period.

Help them find time to do things that they find relaxing. Together with looking for opportunities to relax, encourage them to be active, eat well and sleep well. Go for walks or be active as a whole family and make healthy meals (limiting caffeine and sugar).

Reflect on your own expectations: are you on the same page as your child? Teens can feel stressed and worthless when they’ve tried but failed to meet expectations. Encouraging your child to be honest about how they feel, and accepting and acknowledging their effort can be really helpful to you both.

Look after yourself. By taking care of your own wellbeing you will be in a better place to support your teenager through this stressful time. Join the conversation on the ReachOut Parents Forums – talk to other parents about how they’re managing the stressful exam period, and share tips for supporting your child.

 

Media contacts

Troy Bilsborough – 0427 063 150 – troy.bilsborough@provocate.com.au

Liza Davis – 0418 164 231– liza@reachout.com

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