Stressed? Exams? Help keep your mind healthy and beat stress during Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

NHS Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is supporting this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week campaign which focuses on stress.

Anyone can experience stress and is part of everyday life. However letting stress build up can cause all manner of problems including anxiety and depression. For students who are about to start their exams, they can experience additional pressure and we have some helpful tips on how best to beat stress.

A recent study has revealed that 85% of UK GPs reported a rise in the number of patients with symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression in the last five years. 58% of UK adults who experienced stress, anxiety or depression for over one week did not visit their GP, and 21% waited six months before seeking help*.

Stress itself is not a medical diagnosis, but severe stress that continues for a long time may lead to a diagnosis of depression or anxiety, or more severe mental health problems.

Tests and exams, including SATs and GCSEs, can be a challenging part of school life. Being well prepared for exams is the best way to overcome stress and anxiety, and gives pupils the best chance of getting good grades. Pupils and their parents can get helpful tips and watch this video by NHS Choices at http://bit.ly/2FB0iGi to see how teenagers prepared themselves for their tests and exams, overcame stress and built the confidence to sit their exams.

Dr Salma Reehana, local GP and Chair, at NHS Wolverhampton CCG, said,

“Stress is a normal part of everyday life. However, if we don’t release stress, it can turn into something more serious, such as mental health problems. Mental Health Awareness Week is an ideal opportunity for us all to take action and look at ways of beating stress.

“Being aware that you suffer from stress related symptoms is the first step to dealing with it. Spotting the early signs of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and stop you adopting unhealthy coping methods such as drinking or smoking. There are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time-management techniques.

“Young people face a lot of pressure around exam time and it really does help to talk. It can seem scary to talk about stress or anxiety. You might feel like nobody else is feeling this way, but bottling up stress and trying to deal with it on your own can often make the stress worse. Childline has some excellent advice and support available at http://bit.ly/2rePwBr and NHS Choices provides top tips to beat exam stress at http://bit.ly/2FB0iGi

Here are 10 simple stress busters that anyone can try:

  • Be active – exercise helps you deal with your problems more calmly
  • Take control – it’s crucial to finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else
  • Connect with people – a problem shared is a problem halved
  • Have some “me” time – set aside a couple of nights a week to leave work at a reasonable hour and do something you enjoy (the UK works the longest hours in Europe)
  • Challenge yourself – do something new such as learning a language or a new sport
  • Avoid unhealthy habits – don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as ways of coping
  • Do volunteer work – helping people who are worse off than you will put your problems in perspective
  • Work smarter, not harder – concentrate on the tasks that will make a real difference to your work
  • Be positive – be glass half full instead of glass half empty
  • Accept the things you can’t change – and concentrate on everything you have control over.

*Source: Royal of London: https://www.royallondon.com/about/media/news/2017/november/gps-report-symptons-of-stress-anxiety-and-depression-are-on-the-increase-in-the-uk/

Other sources: NHS Choices: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/teengirls/Pages/examsense.aspx

Mental Health Foundation: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

Childline: https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/school-college-and-work/school-college/exam-stress/