Academic pressure is consistently rated among the top concerns for young people, with 40 per cent of year 12 students reporting symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress outside normal limits.
While studies have shown that some degree of stress is to be expected, if this level of stress becomes too extreme it gets increasingly difficult to cope with and can actively impede academic performance.
Symptoms of stress:
- Not sleeping well
- The mind not switching off
- Feel very tired and uptight
- Snapping at or withdrawing from people
"For students in the midst of studying for their year 12 exams, it can be very difficult to remain focused and grounded," said Dr Aliza Werner-Seidler, senior research fellow and clinical psychologist at the Black Dog Institute. "But it's important to remember that exams are not everything.
"There's no one-size-fits-all approach to coping with exam stress, as everyone deals with academic pressure in different ways. While some students might be overly anxious, others may procrastinate due to an underlying fear of failure.
"Prioritising self-care is a great way to keep perspective, by taking regular study breaks, eating well, getting enough sleep and keeping up with sport and social activities."
By taking regular breaks, your brain is more prepared for study. Family emotional support is important too.
"Parents also have a role to play in guiding their children through the exams," Dr Werner-Seidler said.
"Regular and open discussions about the fact that exams are not the be all and end all can be very helpful, as is helping teens gain realistic expectations about their future career options and alternative pathways.
"Relaxation and mindfulness are also terrific tools to employ to gain some psychological distance from the immediate pressure of exams. Black Dog Institute's BITE BACK online program is a great way to learn and practise these skills."
There's no way to prevent stressful things from happening in life but there are online mental health tools that can be effective in helping to lessen the negative outcomes to those exposed to stress.
If the worry and stress is causing major disruptions to a young person's wellbeing or sleep, it's time to seek professional help.
A good place to start is a visit to your GP, who can link you in with a psychologist.