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Harder exams 'fuelling mental health crisis'

More adolescents are reporting anxiety owing to a 'huge number of exams', expert says

A new petition is calling for a change of the law to make it compulsory to have mental health first-aiders in the workplace

More adolescents are reporting anxiety owing to a 'huge number of exams', expert says

The enormous pressure pupils face to succeed at school is fuelling a rise in mental health problems among millennials, according to an expert in neuroscience.

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, who is professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, was speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival.

She said that teenagers were having to sit more exams, and they had got tougher compared with when she took them 20 years ago.

"We have become much more grade focused," she added. "Young people feel so much pressure to perform well in the huge number of exams they have to do."

Ms Blakemore made her comments as she explained that as stigma around mental health problems declines, more adolescents are admitting to experiencing difficulties.

Another fact that she said could be fuelling anxiety was young people's concerns about the future, such as job prospects and getting on the housing ladder when they are older.

“My child psychiatrist and child clinical psychologist friends say there has been an increase in the real prevalence of these conditions and 'Why?' is the million dollar question," Professor Blakemore said.

"What is it that we are doing now to young people that gives them the increased risk of developing these conditions? No one has the answer."

She added that another factor could be the rise of social media and cyberbullying, and the need to constantly be in contact and get peer approval throughout the night, which was causing a “lot of stress”.

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