16th October 2023
With national exams such as the O and A levels around the corner, it is important to learn strategies to cope with exam anxiety. Behavioural symptoms of exam anxiety include feeling helpless or worrying about doing badly.
Mental health professionals, like Institute of Mental Health child psychiatrist Jeremy Heng, said students seeking help for distress from exams tend to coincide with the week leading up to major national exams. He said students should seek help if they feel like they can no longer cope with the demands of their responsibilities.
Psychologist Amanda Ang at The Therapy Room, a clinic which provides psychological services and therapeutic interventions, has seen an increase in the number of students seeking support in the period before the exams when she previously worked in a secondary school for five years. While some students may find talking to a trusted adult helpful, others may need professional help. Ms Ang encouraged students to seek support early to pick up stress management techniques or problem-solving skills. Students can speak to their school counsellor, who will assess the symptoms and refer the student for follow-ups, if necessary.
Ms Vivyan Chee, deputy director and head of Oasis for Minds Services at Singapore Children’s Society, said students should seek help when stress affects their daily functioning, for instance, ability to focus in school or interact with others. “It is better to address these issues early rather than wait for them to escalate,” she said. Students can speak to their school counsellor, who will assess the symptoms and refer the student for follow-ups, if necessary. She said parents should look out for signs when stress becomes “toxic”, for example, persistent sadness, drastic changes in behaviour or withdrawal from friends, family and favourite activities.