Students and stress – two words that have been synonymous with one another – particularly in the months between March and June.

And according to the Guardian, this year’s stress has been at a peak. With the shift from coursework to exams, with some students sitting up to 28 exams in three weeks, it’s no surprise that school referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health services have risen by more than a third in the past three years.

With such pressure on our young people, many of them are working longer hours than those in full time jobs, with many withdrawing from social activities during exams, the pressure to be excellent is pushing them to panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts.

As church, I think it’s time we went back to basics, yes exams are important – but they aren’t life’s pinnacle. We need to be encouraging our young people to do the best they can with what they’ve got; for some that will be A*s and grade 9s but for others it will be 4s and 5s.

We want to be encouraging our young people to reach their potential – but they need a Sabbath too! It might be putting on special events during exam time to help them relax and get some fresh air, or setting up a prayer diary so the whole church can be praying for young people as they sit their exams.

Above all, we need to remind our young people that nothing; not grades nor stress, nor a social media following can separate them from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

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