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Some Australian students are reportedly shunning Year 12 exams in favour of more favourable, and less stressful, pathways to finishing school. These reports come amid warnings of rising rates of anxiety and depression among young people, with psychologists calling for better mental health support services in schools. Experts say exam stress could be making depression and anxiety worse for vulnerable young people.
Websites set up to support youth mental health use words such as "survive" when it comes to Year 12. Others refer to exam time = stress time.
Exams - Rhetoric - Impact - Way - People
Exams are certainly challenging. But our rhetoric may be having an impact on the way young people perceive exams. In our efforts to support young people, we may be teaching them to be afraid rather than encouraging them to see exams as a positive challenge.
Researchers have for decades considered adolescence to be a stressful time, but it appears the mental health of young Australians has worsened in recent years. Just over 40% of Australian youth indicated mental health was their greatest issue in the 2018 youth survey conducted by Mission Australia. One in four had a probable serious mental-health issue.
Mission - Australia - Survey - Self-reports - People
Mission Australia's survey relies on self-reports of young people aged 15-19. The 2018 survey also showed young people's main concerns were coping with stress (43%) and school (34%). In another survey conducted by mental-health organisation ReachOut, 65.1% of youth reported worrying levels of exam stress in 2018, compared to 51.2% in 2017.
Despite these troubling reports, an analysis of several studies on the prevalence of anxiety actually suggests there has been no such increase. The authors note: "The perceived 'epidemic' of common mental disorders is most likely explained by the increasing numbers of affected patients driven by increasing population sizes. Additional factors that may explain this perception include […] greater public awareness, and the use...
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