Teens experience stress about future choices

A Lancashire teenager offers advice for stressed out teens as pressure around future decisions mounts.

A new study from National Citizen Service (NCS), the youth empowerment programme, reveals a rise in children as young as 12 who are suffering from stress-related illnesses.

As the new study reveals 9 in 10 young people are expected to experience rising stress levels in the next 12 months particularly around future choices. Combine this with stress from not wanting to disappoint family and friends, arguments with friends and school work in general – then rising stress levels are understandable.

Ummarah Ravat, 17 from Blackburn, was the first girl in her family to study for A’Levels, but the pressure she felt to do well and not disappoint her family resulted in her not getting the grades she needed.”

“I quickly came to realise that A’Levels weren’t right for me, but the pressure I felt to do well resulted in me not being able to speak up and tell my family.”

“I’m not surprised this study shows most teenagers will experience stress this year,” added Ummarah. “There is a lot of pressure to do well at school and know what career you want. If you are stressed it is hard to be confident and put things in perspective.”

“One programme which really helped me gain confidence and find my voice was NCS. It made me more confident in meeting people too so when I decided to move colleges and undertake a vocational qualification in Health and Social Care, I made friends easily and also knew people from my NCS experience.”

The study also suggests that rather than talking to their parents, teenagers prefer to distract themselves from the pressure they’re under by watching YouTubers or browsing Facebook, with many choosing to deal with stress alone.The study indicates this may be a result of being afraid of letting their parents down by making the wrong decision.

The findings also indicate a lack of understanding around the pressure young people are under, with one in seven adults admitting they would not believe a young person who claimed to be stressed, whilst four in ten would immediately think they were exaggerating the situation.

Janey Downshire, from Teenagers Translated, specialising in Teenage Development and helping parents and teenagers, explains: “Parents can unwittingly add to the pressure experienced by their child. The best way we can help our teenagers is by not being anxious and worried about their stress and pressure ourselves.  Approaching the problem of their future in a calm way and having a proactive discussion about their options will help them to think it through for themselves and aid decision making. In addition, recommending a programme like NCS, which helps young people gain independence and take responsibility for their own decisions in an environment away from their home setting, can be a great way to begin reducing this anxiety around decision making.”

National Citizen Service takes place in the spring, summer and autumn for 16 & 17 year olds. The programme, which is recognised by UCAS and employers alike, helps teens develop skills for work and life including confidence, leadership and resilience, whilst also expanding social networks.

Dave Todd, NCS Contract Manager at Inspira for Cumbria and Lancashire said, “The start of the new academic year is particularly challenging for 16 and 17 year olds as they lay the foundations for their future. With school work piling up and exam pressure growing, it can be difficult for both teens and their parents to take a step back and truly feel empowered to make the right decisions for them. NCS is a truly unique experience that takes teens out of their comfort zone with lots of new experiences, making new friends and meeting new people with an away from home stay. It is an invaluable opportunity to gain confidence and develop new skills to equip them to make the right choices and let off some steam. It is something every 16- 17 year old should experience.”

The next programme takes place in October and costs no more than £50, to sign your teenager up visit www.ncsnorthwest.co.uk.