The State examinations begin today for some 124,000 pupils with a range of new measures aimed at reducing stress and anxiety levels.

Youth mental health services such as Jigsaw have recorded a spike in the number of young people seeking support in the lead-up to the exams for issues such as anxiety and other difficulties.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh says while the state exams are a big moment for young people, it's important to keep things in perspective.

Students are being reminded to look after their mental health.

Samaritans spokesperson, Theresa Bell, says the next few weeks can be an incredibly stressful time for students and their families.

Over the next three weeks, more than 54-thousand will sit the Leaving Cert and almost 63-thousand will sit the Junior Cert.

The exams get under way at 9.30am this morning, when Junior and Leaving Cert students will sit English exams.

In the afternoon, Leaving Cert students will face home economics while Junior Cert students are due to sit civics, social and political education (CSPE).

Minister McHugh also paid tribute to parents and teachers, who put in hard work every year to help young people prepare for exams and ensure they have much-needed support.

The National Parents Council Post-primary also offered words of advice for parents wondering how to support their children over the coming days.

Geoffrey Browne, the council’s president, said while parents may have been quietly supportive in the background, “now is the time to shower them with smiles, treats and a listening ear, rather than the advice that is often on the tip of your tongue”.

ASTI president Breda Lynch advised pupils that after each exam they should “look ahead to the next one” and “avoid postmortems and the inevitable social media hype”.

TUI president Seamus Lahart said while the State exams are important, students should remember that they “are not defined as a person by any set of exam results”.




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