It’s a shame that Mental Health Awareness Week falls right in the middle of the exam period when most young people are too busy feeling stressed to acknowledge it. It’s a peak time for feelings of panic and stress and therefore it’s really important to take some time to check in with ourselves and the people around us. Exams are important but our mental health is more important.
Talking is important for stress relief. Take some time out from revision to talk to friends about how you’re coping. Venting with people in the same position as you is a really good way to get rid of pent-up frustration. Share your strategies for stress relief and staying calm. Let your friends know that you’re there to talk if they feel like the stress and nerves are getting the better of them. Let people know that you’re rooting for them!
When it seems like everyone is stressed and exhausted, it easy to forget that people suffering from chronic anxiety are dealing with something completely different from these short-lived feelings that most people feel during exams. For this reason, it becomes a time when it is easy for mental illness to slip under the radar. It is important not to compare exam stress to anxiety as a mental illness as they are definitely not the same thing. If you’re suffering from exam stress, your feelings are normal and you’re still doing okay.
For mental health professionals and support workers, mental illness should still be a priority and needs to be acknowledged separately from exam stress. It can be extremely frustrating and even undermining for a young person with a serious mental health condition to be sharing the long waiting lists to see doctors and counsellors with people who’s stresses will pass as soon as the exam period is over. It is equally frustrating and undermining to tell a young person with anxiety that their uncontrollable negative thoughts are a result of exam stress. Some people are at risk and cannot afford to have their support networks compromised.
Take some time to talk, remember that the exam stress is temporary and don’t let Mental Health Awareness Week go under the radar!