Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Staying behind a year at school

Ive been struggling with anxiety which has meant I’ve had a lot of time off school. This has meant that I’ve had to stay back a year to catch up on the work. Its been really difficult trying to talk to new people because of my anxiety so i feel isolated in my new classes.

Most of my friends who are in the same year as me are thinking about university and what they will do once they leave school. Its hard for me to think about the fact that at the end of the year they will all leave and I’ll be on my own.

what can I do to try and overcome my worries?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Sometimes people repeat a year at school when they’ve been sick and missed a lot of lessons, or if they’ve struggled with their work for any reason, including anxiety or mental health. It's not a punishment and is meant to give you the best opportunity to succeed. It can seem like a really big deal at the time but in the long term it doesn't have a negative effect for most people.

One of the reasons people find it hard to stay back a year in school is that they worry that their friends have moved on and they feel they now have to make new friends all over again. You may find that your current friends stick by you and things carry on more or less as normal. If this isn't possible and you find yourself with lots of new people it can be stressful to think about starting all over again. But we have tips to help you make new friends.

Try to balance making new friends with focusing on your school work. A good balance of your social and work life is very important. You might find that one of the ways to meet people is to get involved in clubs at school - whether it's a sports team, drama or some other group where people from different years meet. This way you can get to know people from the lower years before you stay back a year.

Something to remember is that a year now might seem like a long time, but in the long term it’s unlikely to hold you back. When people go to college, university or start work it's often after taking gap years, working or trying different things before they figure out what's best for them. As you get older age differences become a lot less noticeable, so starting things a year later shouldn't have any effect on your later career or university - other than you probably feeling more prepared. It may actually turn out to be an advantage for you as you’ll be older when you need to make decisions about what course to study or career to follow.

I hope that this has helped but if you want to talk more, our counsellors are here to listen and support you.

Thanks for your letter.

Take care,


Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

Ask me a question

You can ask me about anything you want, there's nothing too big or small. I read every single letter but I can only answer a few each week. My replies are published here on my page.

Write me a letter