THE national youth mental health foundation, headspace, is reminding Lake Macquarie and Central Coast teens that it's normal to feel stress as HSC exams approach.
"It is important to note, however, that stress is different to anxiety," senior clinical advisor, Nick Duigan, said.
"Young people face many life challenges, one of them being school, and particularly exam periods."
The headspace office at Lake Haven offers a range of free professional services to young people with issues that might be impacting their peace of mind.
The headspace manager for Lake Haven (and Gosford) is Helen Isenhour.
"Young people often reach out to our local services for help around HSC exam time," Ms Isenhour said.
In the news:
"They may not feel they have the time for appropriate self-care and may need support to develop additional coping strategies."
Teenagers who are older than 14 can access headspace without parental consent.
Those aged 14 and younger require parental or guardian support to access headspace services.
Research showed, however, that young people recovered better when they had the support of family and friends, Ms Isenhour said.
The good news for HSC students is simple stress-busting techniques are often the most effective.
"Take regular breaks by doing the things you love - listen to music, go for a walk, talk to friends. This will help keep you feeling refreshed and relaxed," Ms Isenhour said.
"It is important to look after yourself and take the time to get plenty of rest, eat healthy, and drink lots of water."
But when these strategies fail to do the job, and young people continue to feel anxious, overwhelmed, or just on a worrying trajectory, it is important to seek professional help.
Mr Duigan said when a young person was supported by their school and family to work through times of difficulty, it built resilience.
"A supportive school and family environment provides information and resources that help young people feel in control, and help young people build a range of strategies that support them to do the things they want to do, even in times of stress and difficulty," he said.
"It is important to make sure young people have access to the information they need to recognise the early warning signs and symptoms of mental health difficulties.
"This can help them to intervene early and can also help them to put in place healthy habits to support their mental health and prevent a mental illness from developing."