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'It was amazing to be listened to' - This service helped 2,500 young people last year

More than 11% of the young people presenting at the mental health programme said they’d had suicidal thoughts.

Image: Headstrong

OVER 2,500 YOUNG people used the mental health services of the Jigsaw programme last year.

According to the annual report for Headstrong, which runs the programme, the highest proportion of young people engaging with it were 16-17-years old. 57% were female and 43% were male.

The service allows young people to drop into one of ten hubs in six counties and speak to a member of the clinical team. There is no charge for the service and GP referral is not required. The most common reason for a young person to present to Jigsaw in 2013 was anxiety, tension or worry. This was followed by anger and family problems.

11.5% also said they had thoughts of suicide.

The annual report said that 89% of the young people it helped presented with clinical levels of psychological distress with 52% reporting high levels of distress. However the majority of 17-25-year-olds showed a reliable reduction in distress after receiving support.

As part of the service, young people are encouraged to set goals, with most centred around emotional or mood regulation and behaviour self-management.

Testimonials from some of the young people the service dealt with show how much of a difference it made to them, with many commenting on how comfortable it made them feel.

Both the staff and the rooms give a sort of ‘homely’ feel and make it easier to talk. Very relaxing. The staff were interested in what I had to say … It was amazing to be listened to.
It is a brilliant service, it helped me to get through a very difficult time & make changes that I can use for life. I can’t think of anything I would change.
I went in thinking my problems were silly, but the staff assured me that no problem was too small. They listened to me and made me feel like I could trust them with everything I said.
My life has changed since coming here. If it wasn’t for you’s I wouldn’t be here.

Dr Tony Bates, Founding Director said the programme works for these young people because they are listened to.

“These young people are the experts in their lives.” he said. “They guide us and their outlook, which is as yet unclouded, actually models how to work creatively in partnership.”

“Our young people deserve to be heard in a space that’s safe, local and youth friendly. And every community needs help to support our young people’s mental health and every system designed for our young people needs to be strengthened. It’s plain and it’s simple.”

Read: 91 children known to HSE died in four years – one quarter by suicide>

Opinion: The reality of mental illness doesn’t fit into a sanitised sound bite>

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