Worried About The Exams? Take Time Out

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AS local teenagers picked up their exam results this week, the Public Health Agency is reminding students that there is help available.

Madeline Heaney, Regional Lead for Mental Health Promotion, PHA, said: “Waiting for exam results can be a very stressful experience, especially if the result is different from the one they had hoped for.

“Young people can feel that their whole world has crashed down around them. It can take some time before they are able to evaluate other opportunities.

“The PHA urges young people and their parents to take time out, pause and think again. Schools, colleges and universities all have services and advice for those who do not get the results they had hoped for, and young people should be encouraged to use these services. It is also important not to neglect the possible impact of disappointing results on mental and emotional wellbeing.

“Look out for behaviour or feelings that could indicate that your child is showing signs of stress or problems under the surface. More information on looking after your mental health and the support available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info”

As parents and guardians, taking time out to remember a few simple ways to protect your mental wellbeing, and that of your child, could make all the difference. These include:

· Finding out what options are available locally from careers teachers, for example;

· Helping your children to think about the positives steps they can take, with advice from educational experts, friends and family;

· Reassuring them that there are other options and ways to move forward;

· Ensuring that they know you are available, making time for them and giving them support;

· Encouraging them to keep in contact with friends, regardless of results, to do the things they enjoy and to exercise, preferably with someone else;

· Cultivating and encouraging optimism in yourself and in children trying to avoid over thinking and comparisons with others.

Taking time out to assess the options is important. It can sometimes take a while for these options to become clear, and in the meantime, it is important to stay positive and supportive.

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) has set up a dedicated examinations helpline offering advice and guidance for students who are receiving their A-Level and GCSE results. It will be open 9.00am to 5.00pm weekdays, from Wednesday 18 August to Friday 3 September – telephone (028) 9026 1260 or email helpline@ccea.org.uk. Further information can also be found in the ‘frequently asked questions’ section of the CCEA website: www.rewardinglearning.org.uk

If you, or someone you know, is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow-up with other support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info