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NHS Trust helps tense teens SMASH their exam nerves

NHS Trust helps tense teens SMASH their exam nerves
14 May 2018

An NHS provider is backing Mental Health Awareness Week, which starts today (14) and runs until Sunday (20), by giving stress-busting lessons to tense teens preparing to sit exams.

Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust is supporting this year’s initiative and its focus on ‘stress and how we cope with it’ by delivering the hour-long ‘Stress-less’ sessions to 15 and 16-year-olds about to take GCSEs.

The Trust, one of the biggest mental health providers in Hull and East Riding, is also offering advice to the candidates on how to keep their exam nerves at bay.

Emma Train-Sullivan, who runs the Trust’s Social Mediation and Self-Help (SMASH) service, said: “Exam time can be extremely challenging for young people and they are likely to experience some change in their anxiety and stress levels.

“This can often have a negative impact on their emotional resilience and mental health and, in turn, their confidence and self-esteem.”

The stress could be caused by fear of failure or not achieving the grades they believe are needed to pursue a chosen career path, or through a mistaken belief that everyone else is better than them, she explained.

Symptoms of stress included over-worrying, tension, headaches, stomach pains, poor sleep, irritability, negativity and less interest in food.

To support young people to manage their anxiety, SMASH has visited schools to deliver its ‘Stress-less’ sessions, which use elements of cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT. Seventy-six pupils at Beverley Grammar School are among those who have been helped.

Mrs Train-Sullivan said: “These sessions teach mindfulness, problem-solving, wellness techniques, coping strategies, sleep hygiene and offer dietary advice to help young people manage their stress, feelings and emotions through testing times.

“The young people are also given Stress-Less bags which include top tips, inspirational quotes and other therapeutic treats to support them through their exams and beyond.

“Through SMASH and other initiatives, we want to give children and young people the tools to deal with stress throughout their lives, not just at exam time.”

She said young people could manage their stress more effectively by talking about their feelings to their parents, carers, friends, peers, teachers and other trusted adults, and by taking regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, getting a good night’s sleep, and making time to relax.

Mrs Train-Sullivan also advised parents and carers to offer young people warmth, reassurance, encouragement and advice to empower them to “be their own best”.

Further details are available by calling 01482 303680 or emailing







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