GoCalm Case Study

With results day signalling another exam season over and a new academic year on the horizon, provision for young people’s mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges continues to be a widely debated topic. The role of GoCalm (a desktop app created by our Innovation team), designed to help learners tackle exam stress and anxiety couldn’t be more relevant or timely. Earlier this year, two learners from Prudhoe Community High School put GoCalm to the test to help them manage their exam stress and anxiety.  

In their own words, Joe and Alex had ‘hit a wall’ when it came to managing exam stress and anxiety with both experiencing difficult physical and emotional side effects. Both Alex and Joe took their exams in isolated rooms due to their anxiety, so were excited by the opportunity to see how GoCalm could help.

Alex

Can you describe your experiences of exam stress?

‘I would hyperventilate and sit there shaking not being able to write anything. I’d completely zone out and not be able to hold a conversation with anyone. I wasn’t sleeping, eating, not socialising, wanting to be on my own the whole time. It was awful.’

Why did you decide to give GoCalm a try?

 ‘I was in such a bad place, … it was hard to get out of bed some days, I was at a point where I wanted to get it sorted, I was sick to death of being in the position I was in and feeling how I was feeling.’ 

What benefits did you recognise when you started using GoCalm?

 ‘On a GoCalm day I knew I could get through compared to a day when I hadn’t used it, I would have more panic attacks. Being able to see the differences in calm levels each time you use GoCalm meant that you could see and understand how you fluctuate. I could understand my anxiety day to day, if one day I was scoring well for calm and the next day I wasn’t, I could see there must be a trigger. If I used GoCalm in the morning, I would be calmer and focused for the rest of the day.’

What was your favourite thing about GoCalm?

‘I liked being able to see how many seconds I was having in the calm area. That was really helpful in keeping me stay calm because I knew if I was calm, I was relaxed and in ‘the zone’. Making it a bit of game worked for me. I’m a competitive person so it was a driver to see if I could beat how calm I was compared to the last time, and how can I pull myself back.’

How did you transfer using GoCalm into managing your anxiety in exams?

I liked the sound on the app, they say you can hear a pin drop during exams, I would imagine it beeping in the exam to help keep the calm. I used it to try and pull my breathing back so that I remained calm and focused’.

Looking back how would you summarise your experience with GoCalm?

 ‘It’s been a turnaround - I still have my moments but I think GoCalm has helped massively. I think I would have had more panic attacks if it was wasn’t for GoCalm. I’m more positive toward exams.’

What advice would you give to other learners struggling with exam anxiety?

 ‘It’s really hard, but tell yourself that  you can do it and that stressing or panicking isn’t going to change the fact that you have to sit those exams. It’s a fact, you’re going have to do it.  I wouldn’t hesitate recommending GoCalm for helping with exam stress, it’s been really good having it in school.’

Joe

Can you tell us about your struggles with exam stress and anxiety?

 ‘It was really difficult to focus on one thing. If I knew I had an exam, I couldn’t sleep, speak to anyone, I wouldn’t eat. I was just overthinking about everything. The worse thing was feeling trapped.

Can you share your first experience of using GoCalm?

‘Even just seeing London on the screen on the interactive video game made me anxious, there were so many different things going on, I didn’t know how I was going to focus.  When I completed the game, I came out feeling really happy, like I’ve done it!’

How do you think your benefited from using GoCalm?

 ‘GoCalm put me in a totally different brain. I’d get rid of the anxious part of my brain and keep more calm and focused. When I first used it within 3 or 4 times I could just tell straight away that GoCalm helps you to do something that is usually stressful, I could think about it in normal life too, like keeping me calm and focused in my driving lessons or before an interview.’

What part of GoCalm did you like using the most?

 ‘The brain training and interactive videos made it really easy. I’d like to go in and try to beat it to better my own score.’

How did you transfer your experiences on GoCalm into your exams?

‘In the exams I’d imagine the bar from the dial from the games. So if I got too anxious or stressed, I’d try and imagine the bar in my head to see how I was. I’d stop and try to get it back to a point where I was calm by just taking two minutes out. I’ve realised it is much better to pause than just going on through the exam stressed.’

How has GoCalm helped you overcome your exam stress and anxiety?

 ‘I went from being in a little room by myself to going into the big hall with 100 or 200 people. I’m more focused, I’m more positive. I enjoyed going into the big hall, I felt I overcame something and did something I couldn’t have done last year.’

What advice would you give to other learners struggling with exam anxiety?

 ‘Think about the outcome at the end and not the exam itself.  Face it rather than fear it.’

Reflecting on their progress Assistant Head Teacher, Kathryn Williams confirmed: ‘GoCalm has definitely had an impact and they’ve definitely engaged with it. They tell me when they’re going to use it and they report back on what their levels are. It’s really lovely to see. Pre-exams and before going into their exams, I think they have both coped better.’

Click here for more information about GoCalm