Parent support needed as young people enter exam period

How parents can support young people through exams

COVID-19 has significantly impacted the mental health and wellbeing of many young people.

The pandemic and efforts to contain its spread have disrupted the way young people work and study, and has made it more challenging for them to connect with the people, places and things that make them feel good.

These disruptions pose challenges for Year 12 students, who are preparing to sit their final exams after spending a considerable part of 2021 learning online.

The exam period is already a stressful time for young people and it is normal for many of them to feel stress during this time.

Not all stress is bad. A small amount of stress can in fact help exam preparation, providing motivation and assisting with concentration. However, there comes a point at which stress becomes difficult to handle and has a negative effect on young people's ability to study.

headspace encourages parents and carers to trust their instincts if they notice their young person approaching this point.


If a young person is having a lot of trouble staying focused, is feeling overwhelmed or becoming upset and teary, check in and offer support. You may also notice things like changes to appetite, in sleeping patterns or young people withdrawing from things they previously loved to do.

Supporting young people during challenging times may feel overwhelming but there are things you can do to support them.

  • Start by asking how they are and if there is anything you can do to help them. The conversation may help you to understand their experience and offer an opportunity for them to express their hopes and fears.
  • Help your young person map out an achievable study schedule that leaves room for social activities like phone and video calls with friends.
  • Support your young person to take breaks from study to join you for a walk, help make dinner or listen to some music. Maybe learn some relaxation or mindfulness techniques together.
  • Remind young people they are loved unconditionally and have a bright future, regardless of the results they achieve.

headspace is available to support you and your young person. Get in touch with one of our 139 centres or connect with our online and telephone counselling service, eheadspace. Our website also has many study resources for young people and their families.

To speak to someone urgently, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, dial 000.

Vikki Ryall, executive director clinical practice at headspace.

This story How parents can support young people through exams first appeared on The Canberra Times.