Plymouth Males Ignoring Mental Health Risks as Exams Loom
Young Plymothian males who are about to take their GCSE or A-Level exams are far less engaged with their mental health wellbeing than their female counterparts according to a study just released by Plymouth & District Mind.
The study, conducted by Plymouth-based brand communications agency Fuel on behalf of the charity, asked over 100 students and parents on Facebook about a range of mental health issues in the lead up to GCSE and A-Level exams.
Girls were overwhelmingly more engaged with the study with over 92% feeding back to questions concerning mental health awareness, where they would turn for help, and future concerns.
The male problem extends to a lack of engagement from fathers over the mental health of their children. Only 9% of fathers took part in the survey.
Another concerning statistic from the research revealed that 46% of students would not seek mental health advice despite the fact that over 85% of students described themselves as ‘informed or well informed’ about mental health. They cited ‘embarrassment’ and ‘difficulty in approaching the subject’ as the main factors for not seeking help.
A further disparity was revealed over whom students would turn to for support. 83% of parents think their children would speak with them about their mental health concerns whereas only 37% of students said they’d actually turn to their parents.
Olivia Craig, CEO at Plymouth & District Mind, said: “This research goes beyond what we already know to reveal some interesting insights into how students and parents are coping in the lead up to exams. We now, more than ever, need to support our young people to be mentally healthy.
At Plymouth Mind, we are receiving an unprecedented number of calls from parents in particular who are very concerned about their children, particularly around self-harm. We also need to support parents to access the information and help they need to support their children. In reality, there is a huge amount of work to be done around prevention and early intervention in mental health issues in young people, but this has been recognised at a public health level which is very encouraging.”
Martyn King, Managing Director at Fuel, commented: “There is no doubt that general awareness of mental health issues has risen in recent years thanks to high profile national campaigns and a significant step up in activity within schools. The results reveal the need for greater focus on self help information and intervention to turn awareness into effective action. We’d like to thank all of the students, parents and guardians who took part – their feedback will help Plymouth & District Mind to improve local mental health support.”
Tips for students
- Take frequent breaks. Psychologists say we can only concentrate properly for 30-45 minutes. There are lots of online services like Pomodoro that help you take regular breaks. When you’re on your break, do something completely different – move away from your desk, walk about, or make some tea!
- Eat well. Keep blood sugars level to avoid highs and lows of energy, by eating slow-release foods like bread, rice, pasta, fruit and veg.
- Think about when and where you work best. Some of us aren’t morning people, and not everybody finds themselves productive in the library. There’s no one best place or time to work – it’s about what works for you!
- Sleep! Try to get about 8 hours’ sleep a night. If you’re stressed about not being able to sleep, there are lots of ways you can overcome sleep problems.
- Find activities that help you relax. Maybe it’s a hot bath, watching a TV show, or a creative activity. Schedule this down-time into your timetable.
Tips for parents
Children who experience stress may be irritable, not sleep well, lose interest in food, worry a lot, and appear depressed or negative.
- Talk with your child about exam nerves and stress. Reassure them that feeling anxious nervous about exams is perfectly normal, and that it will pass.
- Make sure your child eats well – there is a greater tendency during revision and exam time for young people to consume more high sugar and high caffeine foods and drinks, which can make the irritable and moody
- Help your child get enough sleep – support them to wind down away from revision and computers/phones about 30 minutes before they go to sleep.
- Be flexible during exam times – don’t worry about your child’s messy bedroom or undone chores. Exams won’t last forever so you can give them lots of leeway during this time.
- Help your child to study – if they haven’t drawn up a revision schedule, you could help them to do one or ask the school for one. Make sure they have a comfortable place to study.
If you would like more information on how Plymouth & District Mind can help please visit this website.
- Over 100 students and parents replied to the survey on Facebook from 1 April to 5 May 2016
- For further information on the research or to discuss an interview opportunity please call Martyn King on 07815 322304 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Photo caption: Olivia Craig, CEO at Plymouth & District Mind (centre) with Fuel interns Ella Guildford (right) and Rebecca Kerle (left) who conducted the survey. Both are studying marketing at Plymouth University.
- Plymouth & District Mind supported by Fuel background information: https://fuelcommunications.com/?p=1860