Experts warn that the mental health of thousands of young people in Australia is at risk, in particular those in Year 12, as study stress skyrockets to unprecedented levels due to COVID-19-related disruption and uncertainty.
In January 2020, a nationally representative survey of young people by youth mental health service ReachOut found that around 30 per cent of young people rated study stress as one of their top concerns. When surveyed again in July 2020 this had increased to more than 38 per cent of young people surveyed.*
Young people are seeking online support in record numbers to help them cope with study stress as end-of-year exams and assessments approach. Since COVID-19 restrictions were first put in place (16 March 2020) to 31 July 2020, almost 28,000 people sought help for study stress via ReachOut.com, a 250 per cent increase year on year.
ReachOut has also seen a spike in demand from parents looking for support to help their teen manage study stress, up 430 per cent year on year. Online content to support educators help their students deal with study stress and the uncertainty created by COVID-19 is up 320 per cent year on year.
CEO of ReachOut, Ashley de Silva said the uncertainty and disruption of COVID-19 has put exam and study stress into overdrive.
“Whether you’re a student, parent or educator COVID-19 and related restrictions are having a very real and significant impact on schooling, and causing distress and concern. Our research is showing students are primarily concerned about uncertainty about the future, work and money.
“We’re encouraging young people to take a proactive approach to study stress and reminding young people that it is particularly important to stay connected during Year 12. In particular, for those students that may be having trouble sleeping, unable to concentrate or experiencing mental health impacts, we want them to know that a range of support is available.
“We know that the majority of young people will go online for support, and that they value peer support and hearing from other young people having similar experiences.”
ReachOut’s COVID-19 research with young people saw study stress emerge as a significant issue in March this year with the disruption to schooling and the shift to learning online. In April 2020, ReachOut launched a COVID-19 specific study support hub for students, parents of teenagers and educators to help deal with the challenges of studying during COVID-19.