English children facing low self-esteem and exam stress battles

Ally Lee
14 May 2015

England's children are struggling heavily with low self-esteem and rank among the least satisfied with their lives in the world, according to a recent study by Swiss charity Jacobs Foundation.

The report finds that English children, particularly girls aged 10-12, struggle more with concerns over their bodies and looks and health than those in poorer countries such as Ethiopia and Nepal.


The findings coincide with a startling rise in young people seeking counselling for school stress, as the NSPCC has reported a 200% increase in approaches in 2013-14 - with a tripling in the number of those receiving counselling over exam stress specifically.

It says its ChildLine service received over 34,000 approaches from young people over worries such as workloads, revision and problems with teachers.

Strikingly, the Jacobs report found that England ranks second to last in pupils enjoying school, and more English children say they are not being treated fairly by teachers than in any other country.

Furthermore, one in ten say they have no access to books, and more than 10% have no quiet place at home to study – a number on par with Ethiopia.

It is frequently cited that England’s children are some of the most tested in the world.


  • Ranked 14 of 15 for satisfaction with “life as a whole”
  • Ranked 14 of 15 for contentment with bodies and the way that they look
  • Ranked lowest in Europe for feeling safe in area around home
  • 8.9% rated happiness in past two weeks as “less than five out of ten”
  • Tend to be satisfied overall with friends, family, belongings and police


Sarah Brennen, YoungMinds CEO, says:

It is very sad that some children at such a young age feel so pessimistic about the life in front of them. It is vital that we take steps to boost the well-being and resilience of children in order to avoid ever increasing numbers in mental illness sufferers"


The findings raise serious concerns over the Government’s focus and level of commitment to young people’s mental health.


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