More than a quarter of the city's primary school children are showing symptoms of anxiety serious enough for them to need professional help, a new survey shows, with controlling parents and stressful studies the main culprits. The results come amid intense debate over city-wide testing for primary school pupils which parents and educators say puts excessive pressure on children too young to cope. Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service, the organisation that conducted the study of the mental health of local children, said the results were "worrying". "We urge parents and teachers to care about the emotional health of the children as soon as possible," said Dr Chan Siu-mui, an assistant professor of psychological studies at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. "Parents sometimes are too controlling over their children and treat them like babies, which has increased their levels of anxiety," she added. "They should spend more time listening to them and understanding their needs." The survey, released yesterday, showed that 27.8 per cent of the children questioned displayed symptoms of anxiety sufficiently serious that the organisation said their parents should seek help from medical professionals. While that figure was slightly lower than the 29.3 per cent recorded in an equivalent study last year, the organisation said the number of anxious children remained alarmingly high. The children told researchers they were always worried that they were not performing well enough, were concerned about whether things would go smoothly and feared they were not doing as well as classmates. Some even said they had trouble motivating themselves to go to school, suffered headaches or stomach aches while in class or were fearful when heading to school. Academic results were the biggest source of stress for 22.7 per cent of children questioned, while 21.4 per cent said they feared scolding or other types of punishment from their parents. The findings back up Hospital Authority figures showing that the number of children and teenagers seeking mental health services surged by 30 per cent last year to 26,000. The study is likely to stoke concerns over the Territory-wide System Assessment for Primary Three pupils, which parents want scrapped due to the pressure it places on children. The Education Bureau said the tests would continue, but has set up a committee to review them.