Teen Connect is celebrating a successful first year in town, helping support teens across the city of Leeds. With exam results for both GCSEs and A-Levels coming this month, our own Alice talks about exam anxiety and the need for emotional support.
I became a volunteer on Connect helpline in January 2017. It was at a time when I was wondering what to do next, and someone suggested to me that I could volunteer here. It felt like an immediate fit for me, and I have since transitioned from volunteer, to staff member, to my new role which allows me to focus on working with those who contact Teen Connect.
Having a place like Teen Connect that I could have phoned or messaged would have been great… stealing a moment away to say what I was truly thinking about it all, without fear of judgement.”
Waiting for exam results can be a scary time, a tense time, even an exciting time. People can have a mixture of feelings. And the waiting can be difficult. Similar to Schrödinger’s cat, all possibilities are happening simultaneously until those results are in your hand.
I remember opening my GCSE results letter. I had chosen for it to be posted to me as I was away with family at the time (on holiday in Wales… it was most likely raining for added dramatic effect). With them being posted out to me I’d had to wait longer than my friends, and I had seen them get their results, splashing them online in celebration. Despite my happiness for them, this only increased the pressure I was feeling. My letter arrived, and everyone looked at me in anticipation. I went outside. I wanted to open it alone, to decide how I felt about my exam results on my own terms. I now cannot recall all of the exact grades, but I remember I was pleased with some, others were unexpected, and I was flat out disappointed with a couple too.
I think it would have been beneficial at the time to have someone who was impartial that I could speak to, someone who could act as a sounding board for me to say what I was thinking, feeling, wanting. It can be confusing to make sense of those grades and figure out the real life implications of it all. Having a place like Teen Connect that I could have phoned or messaged would have been great… stealing a moment away to say what I was truly thinking about it all, without fear of judgement.
This is why the service was set up – to give people the opportunity to have a space where they can openly talk through their thoughts, feelings, and life, with someone removed from it all. Exams are no different – they can bring pressure, stress, and many ‘what if’ questions. We think it’s important to offer a space where you are able to talk about your mental health. After discussions with services and young people, we created this. Teen Connect was established to create a safe space for young people to be listened to, to offer a source of support.
Similar to Schrödinger’s cat, all possibilities are happening simultaneously until those results are in your hand.”
Sometimes it’s also worth remembering that, despite all the stress and pressure, exams aren’t the be-all and end-all. Having someone to listen to you that has been through all the ups and downs of exams can be helpful to remind you of this, while still offering a place to vent at length.