It's that time of year, where high schoolers anxiously await the results of the dreaded HSC exams- but the pressure of the test is playing a role in increased panic attacks and anxiety for teenagers.
Headspace clinician Josh Paton said that they were seeing an influx of referrals from Year 11 and 12 students struggling with the pressure.
"We do see an influx. I think it says a lot about the HSC when you have people being referred for stress, but when its finished - they're all good," he said.
"It's definitely a contributing factor for a lot of anxiety and panic attacks ... we see a lot of bars and expectations set really high that they just aren't achievable."
Mr Paton completed his HSC in 2017, and added that it was bizarre to put so much pressure on it when it is rarely, if ever, relevant in adult life - despite being one of the hardest things most teenagers will face.
"I found as soon as I finished it, that the whole big fuss was completely made up."
Part of the stress of the HSC is the role it plays in getting into university courses, but Mr Paton added that there were always other pathways and options for students who don't get the results they hoped for.
"If you're really committed to somewhere, or something particular you want to do, it might take a little bit longer but you can still do it," he said, citing mature-age entry or interview-based applications as both options that students can pursue.
"I think there's always that initial disappointment if you don't get the results you're looking for, but that blows over."
He urged current students to make sure they were taking care of themselves by eating and sleeping well, taking time out for leisure and exercise as well as setting more realistic goals for themselves.
In the long-term however, Mr Paton said he would like to see more transparency around the HSC system and process - particularly how different classes are scaled.
"At the time I did it, I would have found that transparency around how it works would have been very alleviating ... it's a classic hierarchy thing from the Department of Education, it becomes confusing and daunting," he said.
"I don't think even teachers fully know how the HSC is marked."
Of course, no matter how much adults and former HSC-takers might tell the current crop not to panic, there is always going to be pressure.
"At the time you do it, you hear people older than you say 'don't stress' but you just don't believe it," Mr Paton said.
"But it really isn't that big a deal."
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