Stu­dents un­der the pump to suc­ceed

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - ANNIKA SMETHURST NA­TIONAL PO­LIT­I­CAL EDITOR

AL­MOST two-thirds of young Aus­tralians are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing wor­ry­ing lev­els of exam stress driven by a self-gen­er­ated pres­sure to suc­ceed.

New data from youth ser­vice ReachOut found that de­spite high lev­els of exam stress, 66 per cent of stu­dents said they did not seek ex­ter­nal help to man­age stress at exam time.

The re­sults of a na­tion­wide study re­vealed pres­sure by par­ents and teach­ers was not the main cause of exam stress, with most of the stu­dents putting pres­sure on themselves.

Al­most 70 per cent of young peo­ple aged be­tween 14 and 25 said exam stress was driven by a self-gen­er­ated pres­sure to suc­ceed com­pared to 40 per cent who said they were wor­ried about find­ing a job.

One in 10 stu­dents re­ported suf­fer­ing “ex­treme stress” from ex­ams. One-third of those sur­veyed said pres­sure to get a spot in a univer­sity course was also feed­ing their stress.

Re­searchers also found that de­spite high lev­els of exam stress, 66 per cent of stu­dents didn’t ask for help to man­age this stress, prompt­ing concern from men­tal health ex­perts who said it could have a last­ing ef­fect. It comes amid a de­bate about the stan­dard­ised NAPLAN test, which crit­ics claim trig­gers wide­spread stress among stu­dents.

With the HSC just over a month away, ReachOut CEO Ashley de Silva said teach­ers and par­ents should look for signs that stu­dents needed help coping with as­sess­ments.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Dan Te­han said he en­cour­aged stu­dents to learn the signs of stress and ac­cess help.

“My mes­sage to stu­dents is: you’re not alone at exam time,” he said. “I en­cour­age par­ents, teach­ers and friends to be on the look­out and be pre­pared to step in.”

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