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19 October 2020
More than half of all female Year 12 students are worried about their mental health and are finding the disruptions of 2020 harder than their male counterparts as they head into their final exams.
According to new research undertaken nationally:
- 70% of females are feeling stressed about preparing for their exams compared to 55% of males.
- More than half of all surveyed females (53%) are worried about their mental health compared to just under one in three males (30%).
- Much greater proportions of female students report either overeating (36%) or not eating at all (14%) as a way of coping with stress.
- Females students are more than twice as likely to use drinking or smoking as a stress reliever (15% compared to 7%) and either spend time alone or not talk to anyone (38% compared to 19%).
- Nearly half of female students (44%) report ‘crying a lot’ as a way of coping with stress, compared to only 7% of males.
The findings are the basis for You Got This, an initiative launched by not-for-profit DrinkWise aimed at Year 12s as they head into their final exams.
Video messages of support have been sent by prominent women including 7.30 host Leigh Sales, Nine’s Georgie Gardner, Shadow Minister for Education Tanya Plibersek, Today’s Brooke Boney and writer Jamila Rizvi.
This is in addition to messages of support already online from the Governor-General His Excellency, General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Australian Test Captain Tim Paine, NRL players James Tedesco and Damien Cook and Nine’s Peter Overton.
The videos are being distributed via social media channels and hosted on the YouGotThis.org.au digital message board platform over the course of exams.
“2020 has been particularly tough for Year 12s and from this research, we can see how much more challenging it’s been for female students,” said DrinkWise CEO Simon Strahan.
“These results are confronting. We need to be doing everything we can to show Year 12s they’re supported as they head into their final exams.”
“It’s also important they remember that one year doesn’t define the rest of their lives and it’s critical that both students and their families who are feeling stressed or anxious know that help and support is available.”
“Trying to relieve stress or anxiety with drugs or alcohol is not the answer.”
Yougotthis.org.au has the support of Headspace, Beyond Blue, ReachOut, Kids Helpline and My Mirror support services and will include direct links to these services.
DrinkWise is an independent not-for-profit with a focus on creating a healthier and safer drinking culture in Australia.
For more information and to see the messages of support, visit yougotthis.org.au
 Survey of 519 Year 12 students conducted by 89 Degrees East on behalf of DrinkWise in October 2020
Summary of Research
Independent research was undertaken in early October by 89 Degrees East Consultancy of 519 school leavers nationally about to undertake their final exams.
It found overall:
- 48% don’t feel good about what’s happening in their life.
- 48% don’t think they’re dealing with their problems well.
- 41% are worried about their own mental health
- 65% rated this year as more difficult than they expected
Female students are feeling more stressed and anxious, compared to males:
% Feeling Stressed or Anxious Females Males
- Preparing for exams 70% 55%
- Getting into the course I want 51% 37%
- Missing out of social celebrations 50% 38%
- My own mental health 53% 30%
- Worried about the world in general 47% 35%
Female students are not coping as well with stress and anxiety. Ways female students are coping:
- 49% are staying in bed longer than usual (31% Males)
- 47% going online/using social media (30% Males)
- 44% having a break from school work (27% Males)
- 44% crying a lot (7% Males)
- 36% eating too much (10% Males)
Reaching out for support:
- Only 4% have accessed professional support services when feeling anxious or stressed and 15% have reached out to a counsellor or youth worker.
- 30% would not be comfortable accessing support services for themselves
- 52% feel comfortable reaching out for support services for a friend
Dealing with stress and anxiety:
- 11% of all Year 12s (15% of 18-19s) are drinking alcohol or smoking to relieve stress and anxiety