SAMH launches campaign to help young people cope with exam time

SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) has launched a new campaign ‘Testing Times’ to raise awareness about anxieties around school exam time and ways to de-stress.

The campaign from SAMH has been supported by a number of leading figures from across Scotland, including X-Factor star Nicholas McDonald; Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Mental Health; and representatives from Girlguiding Scotland, Scouts Scotland and Scottish Youth Parliament.

Each of the campaign’s supporters will be sharing videos on social media highlighting their own personal experiences of anxiety, with the aim of encouraging young people to discuss their emotional wellbeing openly, both with their peers and adults in their lives.

To help Scotland’s young people cope with anxiety during exam time, SAMH has produced some top tips on how to de-stress:

  1. Keep yourself and your revision fresh by alternating where you work between places that make you feel calm.
  2. Stop revising at least an hour before bed, everyone needs time to switch off.
  3. Focus on you, comparing yourself with your friends can make you more anxious.
  4. Your brain needs proper nutrition, fast food and energy drinks are not going to help.
  5. Reward yourself with regular breaks, they are a motivation and a chance for your brain to recharge.
  6. Make time to exercise, it releases feel-good endorphins in your brain and helps you de-stress.
  7. Tackle stress early. If your stress and anxiety start rising take a break, take a breath and talk to someone.
  8. Exams are important but when they’re over you’ll realise you can’t change them and they don’t need to define the rest of your life.

As well as launching this campaign, SAMH is piloting a programme of activity in schools, colleges and with specialist mental health teams – all aiming to help young people and the adults in their lives. This programme has been made possible through charitable donations and is led by a new, dedicated children and young people’s team.

SAMH has also been working in conjunction with Wallace High School in Stirling – which is leading the way in supporting students and staff to talk positively about mental health – to develop best practice.

Billy Watson, Chief Executive of SAMH, said: “We want 2019 to be a year of action so young people get help as soon as they need it.  We’re delighted to be piloting our new programmes, thanks to the generous donations of our fundraisers and supporters.

“While we have been encouraged by recent commitments from the Scottish Government on mental health, there is still plenty of work to do to ensure that young people feel able to discuss and manage their mental health and wellbeing. Testing Times is aimed at raising that awareness and hopefully equipping more young people facing the stresses of exam time with the tools to manage those anxieties.”

Pam Steel, Education Development Officer at SAMH, is on secondment from Wallace High School in Stirling, where she works as a PE and Dance Teacher, and led the development of a whole-school approach to mental health.

She said: “It’s that time of year again when students across Scotland are busy preparing for school exams. Typically, there is a huge amount of pressure on young people to succeed, pressure they either put on themselves or from family and friends.

“We want to help make sure that every young person can learn about mental health and wellbeing so they can look after themselves and ask for help when they need it. We also want everyone with a role in a young person’s life – parents, teachers, sports coaches and youth workers – to feel confident that they can help just by being open and supportive.”

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