Exam stress and anxiety.
Ringing any bells?
No? You’re super, super lucky and have the amazing responsibility of supporting those who aren’t so fortunate.
Yes? Well, you’re one hell of a strong person and I hope that one day you’ll be able to believe that. I know the grind it brings and the inescapable torture you’re going through, but the saying ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’ couldn’t be more relevant here. Breathe. In. And. Out. Okay, you’re going to be okay!
Extreme levels of stress in the run-up to and throughout exam season affect thousands upon thousands of us annually. And what’s worse is that the age at which we’re being affected is lowering rapidly.
In the run-up to GCSEs last year, my mental health took a backseat; something I later realised I couldn’t afford to allow. Prioritising work over anything else meant I was neglecting the much-needed rationalisation of the crazy thoughts which spin around my head daily. Ten days before the first exam I was threatened with inpatient treatment if I failed to turn things around; you know that feeling when everything suddenly becomes very real, and very terrifying? Well, yep, this was that moment.
I am in recovery from anorexia nervosa. An illness which almost took my life. An illness closely linked with anxiety. An illness which affects 1.25 million people in the UK alone. An illness which will manipulate, lie and isolate you. An illness which is not glamorous or sexy, or chosen.
But why is this relevant? Well, since relapsing last year I’ve worked my ass off (and ironically, yes, I now have an ass — whoop to weight gain!) to get to a healthier place both physically and mentally. But watching the current year 11s and 13s go through the same stressful process I went through, has filled me with fear; fear for their current and future health.
So I wrote to, and later met with, a local MP to raise the issue of students’ anxiety levels in the education system and highlight the detrimental effects the current system is having on our mental health. We concluded that the current education system is failing us — if it were not, then we wouldn’t have rising numbers of hospital admissions and CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) patients.
Meeting this MP to discuss the matter was incredibly valuable as it enabled me to gain a better understanding and different perspectives on the issue, two very positive things. However, I also learned one particularly horrifying truth:
7-year-olds are throwing up during exams due to anxiety.
Sorry, let me repeat that: 7-YEAR-OLDS.
Since when was this okay?
I came away absolutely horrified by this fact and as a result, have started a petition to ‘Adapt the education system: lower student anxiety whilst saving NHS funds’ in order to get this serious issue up for debate in Parliament. In order to achieve this, we need 100,000 signatures.
I’m going to gather that by the fact you’ve read this far, you are, to a degree, interested in the subject. So now it’s your turn to make a stand.
Please support us in helping prevent both mental and physical illness amongst the future generations by signing the petition and sharing it directly with 10 other people, and asking them to do the same to enable us to create a ripple effect and increase signatures exponentially.
We can make this necessary change. We can and we will.
Thank you so much!
I hope that if you’re sitting exams soon they go well; believe in yourself and rest. I hope you’re able to prioritise your mental health because I promise you, regardless of the results; it will be okay in the end. Exams are NOT the be-all and end-all; you’re much more than ink on paper and you are able to prove that.
PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE!
Petition Link: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/217464