Jigsaw Offaly is an innovative youth mental health initiative which works with young people, communities and local services to change the way Ireland thinks about youth mental health. It is a free confidential support service offering brief evidence based interventions of up to six sessions for young people aged 12 – 25. Parents, teachers and other individuals can also seek advice on mental health issues or signposting to other services. Jigsaw Offaly is a multi-agency initiative working together at a local level and its three lead partners are Headstrong, the HSE and Offaly County Council.
“Jigsaw Offaly has been a real team effort,” says Catherine Rountree, Jigsaw Offaly Project Manager, speaking of the open evening. “After a long process of community consultation, it was wonderful to welcome so many people who had helped in the early planning days. The opening of the Jigsaw in 1 Cormac Street, Tullamore is exciting news for Offaly. It’s a resource that every community needs but not every community gets. We know that 75% of mental health difficulties emerge before the age of 24 so if we can get in early and provide brief support, we can often prevent problems escalating into chronic mental health issues.”
This project came about from the work of Comhairle na nOg in Co. Offaly, who, supported by Niamh Dowler from Offaly County Council, approached the HSE and lobbied for services specifically for youth mental health. Rebecca Daly from Offaly Comhairle spoke at the open evening about how the Comhairle knew that mental health worries were real for their peer group and they wanted to see something in place. Rebecca noted that it was her first time to visit the Jigsaw Hub on 1 Cormac St. She indicated that it was what the Comharile had hoped for, particularly its wheelchair accessibility as Jigsaw Project is about inclusiveness and accessibility for all young people.
Jigsaw Offaly is part of Headstrong’s network of support services for young people. Headstrong is the National Centre for Youth Mental Health and is working to change how Ireland thinks about youth mental health through it’s support service Jigsaw, Research and Advocacy.
Headstrong recently published the My World Survey, Ireland’s first national survey on young people and their mental health which involved more than 14,300 young people across Ireland. A key finding of the My World Survey was that the most important contributor to the positive mental health of young people was having access to “one good adult”. As Jigsaw Offaly grows and develops we will be connecting and re-connecting with individuals, communities, agencies and organisations throughout the county, so that Jigsaw Offaly can become a valuable support and resource for the community. The on-going connection and engagement of individuals and organisations with Jigsaw Offaly will be essential to the task of building the capacity of families, communities and organisations to promote the positive mental health of young people.