Exam stress rising? No, pupils are just better at seeking help | Laura McInerney

Of course sitting GCSEs can be a trying experience, but with good support, study pressure can be positive

Across the country at the moment, young people are engaging in a practice that will give them nightmares for decades. Nope, not fidget spinners or Snapchat filters: those give only adults nightmares. The real answer is exams.

It’s almost 20 years since my maths GCSE and yet the bad dreams are still the same. No revision done, the exam hall lost in a labyrinth of corridors, the start already missed. I am not alone. Exam anxiety dreams are among the most common in adults. Is it these painful associations, then, that mean a quarter of British parents report their mental health was negatively affected by having children who are currently taking exams? Or is it, as the parents will more often tell you, because watching your child break under the pressure is enough to make anyone sick?

Related: GCSEs and A-levels: how are young people coping with exam stress?

Among boys, the number experiencing any psychological distress has actually gone down

Related: Six tactics to help your students deal with stress

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The rise of eSports: are addiction and corruption the price of its success?

Forget football, the world’s fastest-growing sport is live video gaming. But increasingly its impact is proving harmful to those involved

If you had been away from the planet for the past quarter of a century, one of the few things you might find comfortingly familiar on your return is the world of sport. While the digital revolution has transformed the way we shop, chat, date, do politics and consume culture, sport looks largely unchanged. From football to cricket to golf, it’s still the same old staples, hitting a ball into a hole or goal or over a boundary. There hasn’t been a major new sport invented for more than a century. Or has there?

In the East End of London, Sam Mathews is holding court at Fnatic’s HQ, otherwise known as the Bunkr. A pop-up shop that opened last December, it is marketed as the “world’s first eSports concept store” and is as knowingly hip as its Shoreditch surroundings. Here at the Bunkr, you can buy eSports equipment, meet players, view streamed events and even watch matches live.

Related: Hashtag United, Wimbly Womblys and the virtual gamers striking it rich

Related: Sport 2.0: crumbling traditions create a whole new ballgame | Sean Ingle

Related: Sebastian Coe: ‘Athletics needs to be innovative, braver and more creative’

Related: Golf fights old perceptions and drop in players to attract new audience | Ewan Murray

I ask if he will give me the most powerful shock he gives patients. The impact is violent. I still feel it hours later

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Popular social media sites ‘harm young people’s mental health’

Poll of 14- to 24-year-olds shows Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter increased feelings of inadequacy and anxiety

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young people’s mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young people’s feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

Related: Social media and bullying: how to keep young people safe online

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A moment that changed me: realising, aged 16, that I couldn’t handle alcohol | Lou Sanders

I did drink quite a bit more after that. But that night in Alicante was the first inkling I had that my relationship with alcohol was a dangerous one

I was 16, on holiday in Alicante on my own – my Aunty Sue was due to join me the next day. So in preparation for her arrival, I drank almost a litre of vodka, hit the town and passed out. A Spanish stranger called an ambulance and the local hospital kindly pumped my stomach. “Olé! Olé!” as they say (translation: Oi! Oi!).

I was in a foreign place, didn’t speak the language, and had no idea where my hostel was. I thought I was streetwise but I was a street idiot. Like many people my age, I was a turbulent sea of emotions: a mix of hormones, some unprocessed family happenings, and a classic case of a broken heart. Because of this emotional maelstrom, the male nurse thought he could drop me back to my hostel via his place and have sex with me, since I was too low on self-esteem, and way too out of it, to put up any sort of counter-argument. Turns out he was right. Muchas gracias, maaate!

Related: Alcohol can ruin our mental health, but it’s rarely discussed. I know | Matthew Todd

There was no knowing when the beast would be unleashed. But, at some point, the beast was always unleashed

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Growing up transgender: ‘I wish I could have come out younger’

Aimee Challenor knew she was different aged 10, but after feeling isolated and depressed for years she finally found the support she needed to help her come out at her school prom

Growing up is tough enough for any young person approaching puberty. But for Aimee Challenor the challenges she faced as a 10-year-old were much harder: “It struck me when I was about 10 or 11 that I was a girl. I couldn’t put my finger on it but something wasn’t right. I was in year 6 and I left my parents a letter on their bed before I went to school one morning. When we talked about it later they were very supportive, but no one knew what trans was. So I went back into the closet.”

During the next six years Challenor, now 19, felt anxious, isolated, lonely and depressed. “I spent my time at secondary school feeling pressured by society to be somebody that I was not. I wasn’t able to be myself; there was always that nagging feeling at the back of my head, so I didn’t take opportunities and grab them. I didn’t reach my potential and my education suffered as a result.”

Related: Supporting LGBTI pupils: ‘It’s important a school is ready for anyone’

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Supporting LGBTI pupils: ‘It’s important a school is ready for anyone’

Schools today are much more receptive to students’ gender and sexual orientation, and are places where diversity is celebrated rather than scorned

It was not long ago that LGBT pupils at the Priory School in Hitchen, Hertfordshire, hid behind a mask of silence. Fellow students used the word “gay” to describe something that was rubbish. Faced with homophobic language, they felt unable to come out in the classroom and kept their true identities secret.

Three years later, dozens of students have come out thanks to a “massive culture shift” in school. Today, diversity and inclusion are celebrated across all aspects of school life: from the setting up of an LGBT drop-in group and appointment of an LGBT student champion, to changes in the curriculum and the building of gender-neutral toilets and changing rooms. Indeed, the school has established such a reputation for equality it is attracting transgender pupils from neighbouring areas.

Related: Growing up transgender: ‘I wish I could have come out younger’

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How schools are dealing with the crisis in children’s mental health

Bullying, problems at home or even the election Donald Trump – the world can be a stressful place for children. Fortunately, counselling services in schools are helping young people cope with such issues and more serious conditions

It could easily be a child’s bedroom. In the centre is a large mat, while a selection of dolls and soft toys line the walls. It is hard to believe that this nurture point in Plaistow, east London, aimed at helping children deal with their emotional problems, was once a school staff room.

Youngsters aged five to 11 can drop in three days a week and speak to a trained counsellor from the charity Place2Be. But as well as worries over friendships, bullying or problems at home, headteacher Paul Harris reveals that a growing number of children are suffering from anxiety as a result of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

Related: Five priorities for improving children’s mental health | Paul Burstow

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‘Shattering stigma starts with simple conversations’: tackling the child mental health crisis

From online counselling to a texting service offered by school nurses and free wellbeing courses, providing support for young people needn’t break councils’ budgets. Sarah Johnson reports on a roundtable discussion

Public concern around child and adolescent mental health is at an all-time high. The prime minister, Theresa May announced in January her intention to better identify and help the growing number of young people in schools who are at risk of developing mental health issues. Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, meanwhile, are using their profiles to convince the public that “shattering stigma on mental health starts with simple conversations”.

And yet, despite growing awareness of the issue, child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) are under an increasing amount of pressure. Healthcare professionals bemoan a lack of resources and staff while health secretary Jeremy Hunt has described Camhs as the “biggest single area of weakness of NHS provision”.

Related: Quarter of a million children receiving mental health care in England

Related: Psychiatrists attack ‘scandal’ of child mental health spending

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Five priorities for improving children’s mental health | Paul Burstow

The mental wealth of the nation is critical to our future – young people’s mental wellbeing should be paramount

The mental health of the nation is built on foundations laid in the early years of our lives. Yet our mental health system is designed and funded to pay the price of our failure to act on the evidence and invest in the right family support in those childhood years.

We go through many life changes and transitions in our childhood and teenage years. It’s why the age of 18 is the wrong time for child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) to “hand over” to adult services. A joint report by the health and education select committees has turned the spotlight on the role schools can play.

Related: We’re working with children in care to improve mental health | Tony Hunter

Related: Mental health services won’t help children in temporary care settings

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Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why prompts rise in charity counselling for children

NSPCC says some children who have received Childline counselling said series triggered memories of suicidal thoughts

A children’s charity is providing a growing number of counselling sessions for young people concerned about the content of the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why.

The NSPCC said some children who had received counselling via its Childline service said the series had triggered memories of suicidal thoughts. Others were worried that the programme did not offer advice on how to help someone who was feeling suicidal.

Related: Netflix show condemned for ‘romanticising’ teenager’s suicide

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Schools cutting mental health services to plug funding gaps, warn MPs

Services to support children’s wellbeing are ‘first thing to go’ when budgets are under pressure, parliamentary inquiry hears

Cash-strapped schools are cutting mental health services such as counsellors and pastoral provision as they try to cover funding gaps, two influential groups of MPs have said.

The health and education select committees joined forces for the inquiry, which called on the government to look at the impact of budget cuts on mental health services for children.

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What do Britain’s younger voters see as the key challenges?

It’s not only Brexit that will determine who gets the support of those whose futures will be most affected. Below, we ask a cross-section of twentysomethings which issues most exercise them


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Netflix show condemned for ‘romanticising’ teenager’s suicide

Royal College of Psychiatrists warns of potentially tragic consequences of 13 Reasons Why, which ‘graphically depicts’ young protagonist’s suicide

Mental health groups have criticised a new Netflix drama for its “sensationalised” portrayal of a 17-year-old’s suicide, which they say could encourage young people to take their own lives.

The Samaritans, psychiatrists, and mental health campaigners claim 13 Reasons Why could prompt troubled young people to copy the suicide of its central character, Hannah Baker.

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British teenagers more competitive than peers but more likely to bullied

Anxiety levels also high in UK schools, global survey of 15-year-olds shows, with disadvantaged pupils worse affected

British teenagers are highly motivated about their school work, but are more anxious, more likely to be bullied and are less satisfied with life than many of their peers elsewhere in the world, according to a survey.

Almost a quarter of British pupils who took part in the poll say they are being bullied a few times a month, while more than 14% say they are bullied frequently, making the UK the fourth worst affected of all 34 countries surveyed.

Related: British teenagers among least satisfied in western world

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One in four young women in UK report mental health problems, study shows

Office for National Statistics finds increase between 2009-10 and 2014-15 and greater incidence compared with young men

A quarter of young women in the UK have suffered from anxiety and depression, according to a new survey released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures were collected as part of a wide-ranging survey gauging the wellbeing of people aged between 16 and 24. They show that, despite an increase in the number of those who said their quality of life had improved since 2009, one in four young women said they had faced symptoms linked to poor mental wellbeing in 2014-15.

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