Objectives and Achievements

Objectives, Achievements and Future Plans Jigsaw Services Eva, Case Study Capacity Building and Engagement Participants’ Voices Research and Evaluation Fundraising Maria, Case Study

Objectives, Achievements and Future Plans

Jigsaw’s vision is an Ireland where every young person’s mental health is valued and supported.

Jigsaw - Our Strategy 2018–2020

Our mission is to advance the mental health of young people in Ireland (aged 12-25) by influencing change, strengthening communities, and delivering services through our evidence informed early intervention and prevention approach

Jigsaw - Our Strategy 2018–2020

This year we saw our 2015-2017 Strategic Plan draw to a close. Jigsaw has grown and evolved significantly during the duration of the plan. The plan put our mission at the heart of our organisation, a mission which has informed everything we have done since we were founded in 2006. It had three overarching objectives:

  • To ensure access to youth friendly, integrated mental health supports when and where young people need them in their community.
  • To build the confidence and capacity of front line workers to directly support young people in their mental health and wellbeing and connect them with Jigsaw.
  • To promote community awareness around youth mental health in order to enhance understanding of young people and the risk and protective factors that contribute to their mental health and well-being.

The main activities undertaken to further these objectives were three inter-related programmes of: (i) Research, (ii) Engagement and (iii) Jigsaw services.

To support this we focused heavily on growing our services, and developing mentally healthy and supportive communities across Ireland, all guided by our research and evaluation. Our outcomes for young people and their communities over the period were:

  • Increased provision of local Jigsaw services.
  • A reduction in psychological distress felt by young people.
  • Increased education and training, raising awareness and enhancing understanding of young people’s mental health.

Over the 12 years since we were founded, we have contributed to and achieved some significant successes in support of the mental health of young people across Ireland:

  • 13 Jigsaw services established across the country, between them supporting over 20,000 young people.
  • Youth Advisory Panels made up of youth volunteers developed to advise, guide and promote the work of Jigsaw.
  • Over 1,000 professionals engaged in training and tens of thousands members of the public attended educational workshops aimed at increasing awareness of how they can play a role in supporting young people with their mental health.
  • Collaboration with University College Dublin to publish the first and largest survey of young people’s mental health in Ireland, My World Survey. This research, along with emerging data from the Jigsaw services, established the evidence base for the effectiveness of early intervention and prevention in youth mental health.
  • Moved from being dependent on philanthropic funding to receiving Department of Health innovation funding, and now mainstream funding from the HSE securing a commitment to support and develop Jigsaw as a national youth mental health initiative in Ireland.

Achievements of note for the year of 2017 are reported in other sections of the report.

...we know mental health remains the number one concern for young people across Ireland.

Jigsaw - Our Strategy 2018–2020

Much has been achieved since 2006 when the first staff were employed in Jigsaw. However, we know there is still a lot more to do. Mental health remains the number one concern for young people across Ireland.

Alongside this, mental health support services across primary and secondary care are stretched and under-resourced; areas such as research and stigma reduction remain under-invested in and innovations in areas such as e-mental health, school supports and services operating outside 9am to 5pm are limited.

The pressure on young people particularly matters to Ireland because we have one of the youngest populations in Europe, with one-third of our population aged under 25. Adolescents (12-17 years) and emerging adults (18-25) make up over 17% of Ireland's population (approx. 795,000 people). By 2020, this number is due to swell by over 13%.

Our understanding of mental health has increased as it has emerged from the shadows, which in turn provides new and exciting opportunities to consider how our mental health services are conceptualised and delivered to young people.

Regulatory and legal changes have increased the need for transparent governance in all that we do, alongside the need to provide the best value for money and greatest impact for those who invest in our work.

In early 2017 we took this experience along with our insight and learning, and in conversation with others started to create a new three-year strategy to commence in 2018. This strategy will build on the successes of our last strategy and on the lessons learnt. Jigsaw is, and will remain, an organisation committed to serving young people, aged 12-25 and one that adopts an evidence-informed early intervention and prevention approach.

In order to achieve our mission, we have identified three strategic priorities for the next three years, aimed at promoting better alignment and focus, ensuring proactive, productive action that unites our people, our passion, our resources, and our energy in the appropriate direction:

Priority 1: We will influence change

We use our experience and knowledge to create a more supportive environment for young people. We influence decisions and work collectively with our partners to secure changes to awareness levels, laws, policies, funding and more to advance our vision for the mental health of Ireland’s young people.

Priority 2: We will strengthen communities

We believe in a community based, holistic approach and we cannot achieve our vision without the active involvement of, and engagement with, communities across Ireland. In order to drive the change we see as essential in youth mental health we aim to inform, support, educate and empower a wide section of our communities, enabling a better understanding of our collective responsibility in supporting young people’s mental health.

Priority 3: We will deliver services

Our early intervention youth mental health services are designed to be safe and compassionate spaces in and of the community. They offer quality care to a young person when and where they need it.

These strategic priorities are underpinned by a new set of values that define who we are and how we act in our day-to-day steps towards achieving our new strategy:

We value young people
We show compassion
We are progressive
We act with integrity
We work collaboratively
We are driven by evidence

Our new strategy was launched in early 2018.
While this strategy will guide the organisation for the next three years, we have an ambitious vision for an Ireland where every young person’s mental health is valued and supported. We know that this will take time, and that we can’t do it alone. It will involve communities across Ireland coming together to make it happen like never before. This strategy is just the first step on that path to a stronger, healthier Ireland.

Jigsaw Services

Jigsaw services are a free mental health support service for young people aged 12-25 situated in the heart of local communities across Ireland.

We provide a range of supports to young people and the adults in their communities, including individual work with young people, parents, school teachers, and health professionals, and working with them together through a programme of education and training.

All of our services work to improve the mental health outcomes for young people and develop mentally healthy and supportive communities that can continue to thrive long after our work with them is done.

Our services
Jigsaw provides 13 services in communities across Ireland providing early intervention mental health support to young people. Our services are designed in consultation with young people to be a welcoming place they can visit for free information and support from trained mental health professionals. If a young person wants support, our service teams are there to listen, without making judgements, and to provide supportive guidance. They also provide information and advice to anyone who is worried about a friend or young person in their life.

A key part of our service is our free therapeutic support to help young people cope with the mental health challenges they face including anxiety, stress and sleep issues. Young people can take part in up to eight sessions with a mental health professional. They are encouraged to identify goals which they are supported in working towards through problem solving, learning new skills and connecting with other services that might be able to help.

We provide a range of specialist education and training programmes in schools, workplaces and community groups which aim to encourage understanding and increase knowledge about youth mental health and the support our services can offer. These include workshops on Understanding Youth Mental Health, Supporting Young People’s Mental Health, My Mental Health: What Helps, and Self Care For One Good Adult. Our Peer Education Training programme works across schools to train young people in the delivery of our It’s Time To Start Talking workshops aiming to promote awareness of youth mental health and encourage young people to talk to someone they trust when feeling worried or down.

Our Read Your Mind programme works with local libraries to provide and promote the availability of a collection of books on mental health. To help people find the right book for them, libraries, local schools, and community groups are provided with a catalogue covering a range of topics including anger, anxiety, bullying, social media, and mindfulness. We also work in partnership with other local services to increase understanding of how our services can work with them, increase awareness of the mental health supports available to young people, and make mental health services easier for young people to access.

2017 highlights
Our services supported directly and indirectly an increased number of young people, reaching over 4,300 young people. Comparing the period May to December 2016 (2240 referrals) to the same period in 2017 (3388 referrals), we saw a 51% increase year on year.

We asked young people who attended our services to tell us about their experience of Jigsaw. 956 young people participated. The overwhelming majority said that they were really satisfied with the support they got and would be willing to recommend our services to others, and gave us some useful insights as to how our services supported them.

We opened three new Jigsaw services in partnership with the HSE in Dublin, Limerick and Cork, offering a range of supports to young people and the adults in their communities.

Our Read Your Mind programme was launched in Tallaght and Clondalkin in partnership with South Dublin Libraries, providing access to a range of books to support young people and the adults in their communities.

We launched seven new workshops as part of our education and training programme including Self Care For One Good Adult, My Mental Health: What Helps, Five-A-Day for Mental Health, One Good Coach, and Supporting The Mental Health Of LGBT Young People. In total our new workshops reached over 2,700 people, helping our education and training programme reach over 4000 more people than in 2016.

Our services supported directly and indirectly an increased number of young people, reaching over 4,300 young people... we saw a 51% increase year on year.

Inter-agency working
Throughout 2017, Jigsaw continued to work closely with our partners, led by the HSE and County Councils, who contribute to the resources required in running our local services. These local partnerships are vital for the continued delivery of our services. Jigsaw Donegal is partnered with the local HSE and Alcohol Forum who act as employers and financial administrators. Jigsaw provides funding to our partners for the costs of Jigsaw Donegal.

Jigsaw continues to be actively involved in the implementation of the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures - National Policy Framework for Children and Young People (2014-2020) through participation in the Children and Young People’s Service Committees (CYPSCs).

Jigsaw’s partnerships in various local programmes continues to go well. As part of our Peer Education programme we work with 35 schools across Clondalkin, Tallaght, Dublin 15, Offaly, and North Fingal. We continue to deliver our Read Your Mind programme in partnership with libraries and local councils across Clondalkin, Tallaght, Offaly and Donegal.

I would just like to truly thank you for your services, as I feel like it did sincerely change my life and the decisions I’ve made since I visited.

A quote from a young person who attended Jigsaw for support with their mental health

Ensuring quality
Jigsaw’s national office provides central programme support to all of our services including clinical governance, quality assurance, fidelity management, evaluation, education and training, project management, fundraising, communications, finance, HR, IT and facilities functions.

Jigsaw remains committed to ensuring high quality, safe and effective clinical practice across our services. Clinical team members undergo regular supervision as per our clinical supervision policy.

In 2017 an internal health and safety audit was conducted throughout all services and any issues highlighted were addressed. Jigsaw services use an online data collection and case management system. This system facilitates electronic case management data collection and enables Jigsaw to conduct comprehensive quantitative and qualitative evaluation of our service delivery. Regular reviews across all areas of our operations take place as part of our ongoing risk assessment and controls, with the results of each review reported to management, the Quality and Safety Sub-committee, and via the Chief Executive Officer, to the Board of Directors.

We began working towards achieving the Practical Quality Assurance System for Small Organisations (PQASSO) quality mark - a quality standard developed for the charity sector, offering external verification of the quality and credibility of an organisation. We also began the development of a Quality Assurance Framework for activities that fall outside the PQASSO standard.

Eva, Case Study

Each year Jigsaw works with thousands of young people to help them cope with the mental health challenges they face. Eva is just one of them...

Why did you come to Jigsaw?
I was going through a rough time. It was the month before my exams. I remember I was in the library and I was so down that I couldn’t focus at all. I was thinking, if this is going to continue, I will mess up my exams. I was constantly worrying and it wasn't doing me any good. That's why I decided to make a move and talk to someone.

What was your experience of Jigsaw?
It was exactly what I was looking for at that time. I just wanted to speak to someone and let it all out, because at that stage I hadn't mentioned my problems to anyone. It was such a relief to talk about the feelings and the thoughts I was having, and to not be judged and asked questions I didn't want to answer.

The support worker I met at Jigsaw just listened and I found that extremely helpful. She calmed me down. I went into a lot of detail with her, so she knew everything that was going on. She guided me through it. She even set up a strategy for how I could deal with it. I really appreciate that.

Then it kept getting better. I didn't tell anyone what I was going through until I was speaking with my support worker. Then I told my family and it has turned completely from me not talking about it at all to now being open with friends and family.

How has being able to talk about it helped?
You're not keeping this, like secret to yourself. I remember at that time my mom just kept asking me, "What's wrong with you?" I didn't know how to approach it. I just didn't know how to bring it up. I was completely avoiding conversation and that was upsetting her. Then when I opened up to her and my family, she felt relieved that it wasn't anything against her. I remember that she told me that she felt like she had failed as a parent. I told her that it wasn't her, it was just that I needed to speak to someone and find the courage to open up to my family. Then she understood and she was really impressed. She definitely feels more at peace now.

Do you feel more at peace yourself?
Oh yeah. I started to work on myself and feel more confident about the issue. The fact that my family knows and they support me and don't judge me, that they're not mad. It makes a whole lot of difference. If something goes wrong with college or friends or something, I always know I have the support of my family. That was the turning point really.

*Please note: To protect the privacy of the young people who visit Jigsaw, names and identifying features are changed in our case studies.

Capacity Building and Engagement

In Jigsaw we work closely with communities, and policy makers and politicians to increase conversation and understanding of how best to support young people’s mental health.

We work with communities to kick-start conversations, encourage understanding and increase knowledge about youth mental health. We engage with policy makers and politicians to inform their decisions and advocate for better mental health supports for young people.

The National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health
Throughout 2017, Jigsaw continued to be actively involved with the National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health. Dr Tony Bates, Jigsaw’s Founding Director, was asked to join the taskforce in 2016 by then Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee TD. Its aim was to make recommendations on how to increase awareness of youth mental health and strengthen coordination between support services.

The taskforce issued a report of their recommendations after their final meeting in December 2017. While these recommendations were welcomed, we know there is still a long way to go in making sure that all young people who need support have access to it when they need it and in a way that works for them. We will continue to engage with policy makers and politicians to further influence decision making to deliver better mental health supports for young people.

Education and training
Building on our range of specialist education and training programmes has been a key part of our work in local communities in 2017. Our workshops have a number of aims including to raise awareness, increase help-seeking, and encourage conversations about young people’s mental health.

2017 saw the development and delivery of a number of new workshops including Supporting The Mental Health of LGBT Young People, My Mental Health: What Helps, Five-A-Day for Mental Health, Self-Care For One Good Adult, and One Good Coach.

We delivered workshops to 23,895 people across Ireland including parents and guardians, teachers, GPs, youth leaders and young people. An increase on the 2016 figure of 4,840 people. Evaluation of the programme has shown a significant increase in attendees’ mental health knowledge and beliefs about help-seeking, with overall findings suggesting that participation in the programme is enjoyable and beneficial.

Participants’ voices

We asked people who took part in our education and training workshops what they liked about them.

Research and Evaluation

Research and evaluation helps to inform all our decisions in Jigsaw. We conduct ongoing, rigorous monitoring and evaluation of our services to ensure they are effectively meeting the mental health needs of young people.

Our services use an online data collection and case management system (the Jigsaw Data System) that allows us to conduct regular and comprehensive quantitative and qualitative analysis of our service delivery.

We also undertake research, working collaboratively with partners such as University College Dublin (UCD) to further understanding about young people’s lives and the risk and supportive factors to their mental health.

My World Survey
Since the end of 2017, we have agreed with University College Dublin a broad memorandum of understanding to work together to advance the research and understanding of youth mental health in Ireland. This will allow for a variety of work with UCD as our academic partner. The initial work to be undertaken in 2018 is to research youth mental health through a second My World Survey.

Published in collaboration with UCD in 2012, the original My World Survey captured the views of over 14,000 young people, making it the most comprehensive study of youth mental health for those aged 12-25 years in Ireland.

The main aim was to gather information about the mental health needs of young people aged 12-25 in Ireland. Among the most striking findings from the study were:

1 in 3 Depressed and anxious.

Almost 1 in 3 young people reported feelings of depression and anxiety.

21% Self-harm.

21% of young adults reported that at some point in the last year they had engaged in deliberate self-harm.

58% Excessive alcohol use.

Excessive alcohol use was reported by 58% of young people, aged 16 years plus. For these young adults, strong links were found between excessive drinking and suicidal behavior.

41% Bullied.

41% of adolescents reported having been bullied at some point in their lives.

Over 70% Supported by an adult.

Over 70% of young people reported that they had high or very high support from a supportive adult.

Over 20% Need professional help.

Over 10% of adolescents and 20% of young adults reported significant personal problems for which they felt they needed professional help but did not seek it.

Information from the My World Survey directly helped to shape the provision of supports and services for young people across Ireland and beyond.

Breakdown of work with young people in services during 2017


4,387 young people were supported directly and indirectly by our services. Comparing the period May to December 2016 (2240 referrals) to the same period in 2017 (3388 referrals), we saw a 51% increase year on year.


Since 2008 we have supported over 24,000 young people.

Of the young people who were supported by our services, the main source of referral were parents, with 49%, and a further 27% were self-referrals, reflecting the embedded nature of our services in local communities. Other sources of referrals include GPs (5.5%) and schools (3.6%).

Young people came to our services for support with a range of issues:

15% - Anger

17% - Sleep changes / issues

14.5% - Family problems

14% - Isolation/withdrawal

12% - Self-criticism

25% - Stress

31% - Low mood

39% - Anxiety

12% - Low self-esteem

11% - Thoughts of self-harm

Young people received support from our Jigsaw Services in three ways:

50.7% Brief intervention.

50.7% took part in a brief intervention, up to eight sessions of therapeutic support with a mental health professional.

31% Case consultation.

31% took part in a case consultation, supported indirectly through providing advice and information to a parent, guardian, teacher or other significant person.

18.3% Brief contact.

18.3% took part in a brief contact, seeking information or meeting with one of our mental health professionals for an initial screening session.

51% of 12-16 year olds who came to our services for a brief intervention saw a reduction in their psychological distress.
73.2% of 17-25 year olds who came to our services for a brief intervention saw a reduction in their psychological distress.

Satisfaction with service
Of the young people who attended a service for sessions with a mental health professional 98% reported they were satisfied with the quality of support they received. While 96% said they would be willing to recommend Jigsaw to a friend. The results are the same as in 2016, showing that trust in the quality of support we provide in communities remains consistently high.


Satisfied with the quality of support they received.


Would recommend Jigsaw to a friend.

Education and training


23,895 people across Ireland took part in workshops as part of our education and training programme, including parents and guardians, teachers, GPs, youth leaders and young people. An increase on the 2016 figure of 4,840 people.

Number of workshops delivered and attendees during 2017
Workshop No. of Workshops No. of Attendees
Understanding Youth Mental Health 61 857
Minding Youth Mental Health 24 314
Supporting the Mental Health of LGBT Young People 2 29
Supporting Young People's Mental Health 79 1827
It's Time To Start Talking 452 17,818
My Mental Health: What Helps, (Young adult workshops - informal settings) 51 1125
5-A-Day for Mental Health, (Young adult workshops - third level settings) 21 818
Self-Care for One Good Adult 46 922
One Good Coach 13 185
2017 Research highlights

We collaborated with the International Association for Youth Mental Health to bring the 4th International Conference On Youth Mental Health to Dublin. The conference brought together leaders in the field of youth mental health to share the latest research, ideas and learnings. Jigsaw were also actively involved in sharing what we’ve learnt since 2006 along with findings from the My World Survey.

We began planning for My World Survey 2 working in collaboration with UCD. The original My World Survey in 2012 gathered data from over 14,000 young people asking questions about their mental health and what impacts upon it. My World Survey 2 looks to see how things have changed since then, and provide fresh insights on how we can best support young people.

We introduced a new measure of parent satisfaction and also piloted new measures looking at wellbeing and equality monitoring.


It is the drive, passion and determination of our supporters that makes it possible for us to deliver vital mental health support to young people. They are the Jigsaw Heroes, and without them we could not do the work that we do every day within communities across Ireland.

In 2017, with the help and generosity of our supporters and donors, we raised over €700,000 and in addition secured over €750,000 in pro-bono support. This was a significant increase on the 2016 figure of fundraising income of over €410,000 and pro-bono support of €93,000.

2017 highlights
75 people took part in our annual Croke Park abseil, raising over €35,000.

We launched our new annual cycling event, the BoxyMo Giro D’Jigsaw. 44 people covered 470km around Ireland over three days to raise over €50,000.

Extreme adventurer Gavan Hennigan became our newest National Ambassador. Gavan is the fastest Irish man to row solo across the Atlantic – a 5,000 km crossing he undertook in just 49 days. Throughout 2017 Gavan promoted and supported our fundraising, taking part in the BoxyMo Giro D’Jigsaw and talking about our work at a number of events.

Lidl selected Jigsaw as their new charity partner for the next three years, pledging to fundraise €1million for Jigsaw and raise awareness of youth mental health nationwide.

Maria Kelly walked 160km home from Dublin Airport to Clara in County Offaly to raise over €4,000 and awareness about our Jigsaw Offaly service.

Intel Ireland selected Jigsaw as a charity partner for 2017. Staff volunteered over 2000 hours of their time and raised over €28,000.

With the support of Independent News and Media (INM), we ran a print campaign revolving around our One Good Adult message. The #TalkIWillListen campaign ran across all INM titles in June, with an equivalent ad revenue of €621,860.

Maria, Case Study

In December 2017, Maria took on a fundraising challenge to walk home to Offaly from Dublin Airport. She raised an amazing €5,700 for Jigsaw. Here she tells her story on why she took on this challenge...

What inspired you to fundraise for Jigsaw?
I have a lot of friends who have worked with Jigsaw to help control and overcome issues with their mental health. I strongly believe that Jigsaw has been an amazing help and support network for these people that mean so much to me, so I wanted to do something to help ensure that Jigsaw can continue to be such an inspiration to young people throughout Ireland.

Tell us about the challenge you undertook and why you chose to do it?
I chose to walk home for Christmas. I was living in Boston for the past 18 months and returned home on December 20th 2017 for good. I decided to walk from Dublin Airport all the way home to Clara in County Offaly. It took me approximately three days to cover the 137 kilometres. I was very fortunate and grateful to have had such a good opportunity in the US and wanted to finish it by doing something good at what is such a special time of year but can also be a very hard time for many people.

What change in youth mental health would you like to see in Ireland?
I just want to spread awareness and promote Jigsaw and the work that they do so that hopefully young people will begin to realise more and more that there is always someone there to support and help them. I have also noticed this year on World Mental Health Day that many people shared their stories and experiences with their mental health issues for the first time, and I think it is beneficial for everyone to read and share stories so that everyone feels that they have someone to talk to and that no one is alone.