Feeling the nerves ahead of A-level results?

Mental health experts are reminding young people who are receiving their A-level and BTEC Nationals results today (August 18) that there is support available if they are experiencing stress or anxiety.

The Children and Young People team at the Mind Hertfordshire Network is urging students to "ReachOut" if they need support over the next few days.

A Mind Hertfordshire Network spokesperson said: "Exam and results day stress will be a difficult time for most young people across the UK.

"It is very normal to feel worried about exams, as naturally our planned future tends to be dependent on our exam results.

"There are always alternative options if your first one doesn’t quite work out the way you had hoped or planned, with lots of support available to you to work this out, so you are not alone.

"Your first point of call should be the place you have applied to, letting them know your situation. In many cases, they can help you and will have advisors on hand.

"If you’d like to talk to someone about your worries or feelings leading up to, and on exam results day, chat with a member of our dedicated young people’s team, ReachOut.

"If you’re aged 10-17 or a parent or caregiver, contact ReachOut to get support with any issues affecting your wellbeing."

%image(14495439, type="article-full", alt="The Hertfordshire Network at the Mind mental health charity runs a "ReachOut" service for people aged 10-17 (File picture)")

The ReachOut programme is run by the Mind Hertfordshire Network and is open Monday to Thursday 5pm to 8pm.

Anybody aged 10-17 - or anybody who cares for someone aged 10-17 - can use the service via instant messenger (https://www.hertsmindnetworkcyp.org/) or by phone on: 01923 256391.

%image(14495440, type="article-full", alt="A-level results day is today (Thursday, August 18, File picture)")

%image(14495441, type="article-full", alt="A-level students receive their exam results today (Thursday, August 18)")

In London, The Cavendish Square Group collective of 10 NHS trusts has launched a campaign called Open Your Mind ahead of A-level results day 2022.

The collective includes The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs outreach projects in Cheshunt, Hemel Hempstead, Ware and Watford, and the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust.

The Open Your Mind website features strategies to help young people cope with stress and anxiety, as well as links to online resources: https://openyourmind.support/

To launch the project, Open Your Mind shared the story of Hannah, aged 22, who is from Barnet near the Hertfordshire border.

Hannah said: "I was 14 when I started feeling quite low.

"I was in secondary school and was not having a good time. I found being around other people very difficult.

"I couldn’t trust people and didn’t feel I had strong friends.

"My school was not very good at getting me the help or support I needed.

"When I was 15, I was admitted to an adolescent ward after two consecutive overdoses.

"I spent five months in hospital and when I came out I struggled to go back into school but still completed my GCSEs and then did my A-levels at a different school.

"It was very challenging to return to school after such a long gap."

Hannah went on to achieve two As and one A* at A-level, but she still felt low.

She was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and received care with adult services in mental health.

Hannah said she wished she knew about free text lines to help with mental health support, such as Shout on 85258.

"I have always struggled to speak over the phone to people I don’t know and being aware of a digital text support service like that would have been great," she said.

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According to the Healthy London partnership, which includes NHS England, there are a selection of national advice phone and text lines which young people can use, including:

  • The Mix - Web chat (https://www.themix.org.uk/), text THEMIX to 85385 (24/7), or phone 0808 808 4994 (3pm-midnight)
  • Shout - Text SHOUT to 85258 (24/7)
  • Student Space - Web advice (https://studentspace.org.uk/), text STUDENT to 85258 (24/7), or phone 0808 189 5260 (3pm-12am)
  • Young Minds - Web advice (https://www.youngminds.org.uk/) or text YM to 85258 (24/7)
  • Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide) - Email pat@papyrus-uk.org, phone 0800 068 41 41, or text 07860 039967 (9am-midnight)