Mental health hindering exams

3 September 2021

By Fraser

As the next academic year begins, mental health issues among school pupils have started showing a huge impact on their studies.

According to ITV news, pupils suffering with mental health issues are three times more likely to underperform at GCSE level.

The statistics here include pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as those who have experienced the toll of lockdown first-hand. These pupils are likely to end up not achieving five GCSE grades at A* to C.

Subjects most at-risk are Maths and English, and according to the National Pupil Database for England, boys are more likely to be affected by this than girls.

Regrettably, it’s not a surprise to see this spike in mental health issues among pupils. Constant school disruption has not only impeded learning, but also limited interaction among friendship groups.

Socialising is a big part of school and balances out emotions amidst the more mundane aspect of the classrooms.

As I know from experience, exams cause an immense amount of stress and anxiety among pupils. Even years ago when mental health was not at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it was present.

Pupils were often crying or being sick before and after assessments; the pressure to succeed constantly weighing them down.

Recommended Reading: The reality of young people’s mental healthcare today

However, the issue is now deeper than this. Two years ago, a survey was launched among 8,600 school teachers and staff. 83% claimed to have seen an increase in children suffering with mental health issues.

This number only increased when the survey was expanded to college and Sixth Form age, where the number reached 90%.

Let’s put this into perspective. The latest statistics do not include the inevitable casualties of growing up as a child in school that we are all familiar with. Bullying, ostracisation, and other factors associated with the struggle of being schoolchildren.

The result of lockdown has brought an unprecedented level of suffering that a few years ago would have seemed incomprehensible.

Alongside the cuts and lack of funding made to both schools and mental health treatment, this is a recipe for disaster.

Fewer than half of the staff in the survey admitted to having a counsellor on the school board. On the bright side, this led to a 37% increase in those who undertook training in mental health first aid, but has the damage already been done?

Leaving schoolchildren as young as nine-years-old to fight these battles alone is an appalling ethical crime. It needs to be dealt with immediately. No parent or teacher should ever have to go through the experience of seeing children suffer like this.

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