Beating exam blues: NHS offers advice and support for Manchester’s stressed students anxiously awaiting results

By Steven Brown

Thousands of A-Level results will be handed out today to anxious Manchester students who have waited all summer to find out if their hard work and dedication have got them their dream place at university.

Yet with GCSE results still a week away, the NHS in Manchester is giving tips to manage stress for both the students and the parents.

Results day, for anyone, is a stressful time and self-doubt is an easy trap to fall into, talking about how you are feeling is important.

It has been confirmed that long-time stress has both physical and mental side-effects which could potentially lead to depression and ill-health.

Dr Ruth Thompson, Clinical Lead for Mental Health Citywide Commissioning on behalf of North, Central and South CCGs says: “GPs know how acutely stressful waiting for and then dealing with exam results can be on the whole family.

“What we’re offering is a series of ‘self-help’ tips which can used to counter the effects and the potential peaks and troughs associated with on-going worry.

“The tips can then be used in any other emotional or difficult situations to build up the right habits for good mental wellbeing.”

Taking control over fears, rather than avoiding them is one of the tips on the website that the NHS encourages.

Anxiety, which can escalate into long-term health problems, is targeted by the NHS with tips on the best way to battle stress including physical and mental exercises and even talking strategies.

The NSPCC helpline ChildLine is also offering help at this stressful period of time and will confidentially talk to anyone up to the age of 19.

Ann Pulling, ChildLine area manager, said: “We hear from lots of young people each year who are worried or panicking about their results, so we want to let them know that they are not alone and that ChildLine is here to listen to them.”

Dr Thompson added: “For those students or families who feel that stress has become an issue that they cannot manage, despite trying the tips on the NHS website, we suggest they book an appointment with their GP.

“Signs to look out for include sleep problems, avoidance behaviour – not wanting to go out or socialise, low mood, and weight loss or gain.”

A staggering 6,366 people were taken into hospital for treatment from stress from June 2011 to May 2012, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

This alarming number was a 6.8% increase from the previous 12 months, which shows the seriousness of anxiety when not dealt with earlier.

Talking to loved ones is an excellent way of combating anxiety which the NHS advise parents or carers to listen with an objective viewpoint.

Parents and loved ones should make time and space in order to talk to their children upon how they are feeling during this difficult period in their life.

Encouraging exercise is another piece of advice given in order to relax frantically panicking students as results day draws near.

Dr Thompson said: “All too often we pin our hopes on one goal and assume our whole happiness depends on it.

“Of course exam results are important – but your mental and physical health is even more vital.”

Social Networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, have been bombarded with comments and posts about how students have been feeling towards the up-coming results day.

Twitter user Megan Bishop said: “There is no hope for tomorrow,” As Emily Bench tweeted: “Words cannot describe how shit my exam results will be.”

“Mums given me the pre results day ‘you’ve done your best’ talk, doesn’t help sue,” tweeted Emma Hartley.

For those who are feel tense and worried about their up-coming results, do not hesitate to contact the NHS via the website here.

ChildLine is also there to help, with a 24 hour helpline service that students can ring and talk to someone confidentially on 0800 1111.

Picture courtesy of Researching Media via Flickr, with thanks.

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