Research and Evaluation.

Being open and sharing our knowledge is valuable for building trust in what we’re doing as an organisation

Because of our Research and Evaluation team, we can say that Jigsaw supported the mental health of over 4000 young people in 2015. That’s a huge achievement.

Louise Dolphin, Acting Research Coordinator.
What is Research and Evaluation? Our bursary scheme Research papers published in 2015

What is Research and Evaluation?

Louise Dolphin, our Acting Research Coordinator, talks about the value Jigsaw places on listening to our young people, evaluating how we support them, and how we share what we learn with others...

Showing that Jigsaw works

One of the key things that we do in the Research and Evaluation team, is show and understand how Jigsaw works for our young people. As an organisation, Jigsaw is very novel; both in how we create and run our services with the support of young people and their communities, and also in how we understand and evaluate the impact we have.

Much of our work is guided by what we learn through the Jigsaw Data System, a sophisticated online tool which allows us to capture data by day and crunch numbers by night from across all of our Jigsaw Services.

It allows us to easily see the numbers of young people we’ve supported, any changing patterns and trends in how young people come to Jigsaw, the age range of people visiting Jigsaw, the different ways in which we are working with them, and much more.

The data also feeds into our infographics, which anyone can view online to get a real-time insight into the work we do and the impact that we have.

Doing more of what we already do so well...

We have a dedicated Research and Evaluation team who are passionate about building on and sharing our knowledge about youth mental health.

2015 has been a hugely important year for us. It’s the year that we really started to build up the number of peer reviewed publications. A lot of groundwork was done in 2014, which helped lead to three papers being published in 2015 - in The Journal of Mental Health, in Early Interventions in Psychiatry, and in the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine. Those three papers helped to make more researchers and mental health experts aware of Jigsaw and the work we do. We’re building on that with a further two publications submitted and accepted to be published in 2016.

In 2015, the Research and Evaluation team have also attended conferences, such as the International Association for Youth Mental Health Conference and the HSE Health and Social Care Professions Annual Conference, sharing what we’ve learnt. We’ve continued to work closely with universities through our bursary scheme, through our ties with the Youth Mental Health Lab in UCD, and through our continuing collaboration on the My World Survey.

The My World Survey was a report that we produced together with University College Dublin (UCD). Originally published in 2012, the research included talking to more than 14,000 young people from all over Ireland and is the largest youth mental health database in the country.

The survey made it possible for the first time to compare what was happening to our young people in Ireland with other countries. The data has proven so rich that we’re still learning from it, and it’s often quoted by other organisations working within the mental health arena. As a team we strive to build on and share this knowledge as widely as we can through publications, our blog, conferences, talks and the media.

We’ve also started to think a lot more about youth-led research. We strive to be a youth-led organisation. So how can we involve young people in a more active way in our research, not just as participants? We’ve begun looking at this with the young people on our Youth Advisory Panel to understand how we might start doing this.

So for me, the key achievements for the Research and Evaluation Team in 2015, are about how we’ve strived to do more of what we already do so well – analysing data to develop our knowledge and understanding about youth mental health and our Jigsaw Services, building our reputation through academic publications and our blogs, sharing our knowledge at conferences and events, collaborating with universities to encourage more research and understanding about youth mental health, and putting plans in place for exciting new projects in 2016.

We actively encourage young people to give their feedback about their experience of Jigsaw. Of those that did, 93% were either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with Jigsaw. That’s great feedback, and again helps to show that Jigsaw works for young people.

Louise Dolphin, Acting Research Coordinator

We can show that our work has an impact

Being open and sharing our knowledge is valuable for building trust in what we’re doing as an organisation.

Because of our Research and Evaluation team, we can say that Jigsaw supported the mental health of over 4000 young people in 2015. That’s a huge achievement.

Of those, nearly 2000 were what we call ‘brief interventions‘. A brief intervention is where a young person comes to a Jigsaw Service for up to six sessions of therapeutic support. About 800 were ‘brief contacts’, where a young person may have attended a Jigsaw Service once or twice. And 1300 were individual case consultations; contact with a parent, teacher or another individual providing information and advice about a young person’s mental health needs.

We can show that what we are doing in Jigsaw works. Our brief interventions are working well to reduce distress across a whole age range, and also for both males and females.

We actively encourage young people to give their feedback about their experience of Jigsaw. Of those that did, 93% were either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with Jigsaw. That’s great feedback, and shows that young people are pleased with the service they receive from Jigsaw.

Another figure that really struck me from 2015, was how many capacity building workshops we’ve delivered in communities across Ireland and the impact they’ve had. We have workshops for both young people and adults that help raise awareness around mental health, and provide practical advice and support. During 2015 we ran 325 of these with a reach of over 13,000 people.

We evaluated these workshops between October 2012 and March 2015, finding that the people who took part reported a greater understanding of youth mental health and the issues facing young people, an increased ability to identify the signs of mental health diffculty, and a deeper understanding of the ways in which young people look for help. They also said they felt an increase in their own confidence and ability to respond to young people experiencing mental health diffculties, a greater understanding of the importance of resilience and how to build it in young people, and an increased awareness of the value of being that One Good Adult® in young people’s lives. To me, the success of the workshops shows how Jigsaw can reach out to the wider community to start discussions and provide meaningful support around youth mental health.

Our Youth Advisory Panel
Our Headstrong Heroes Campaign

Our bursary scheme...

Louise Dolphin, Acting Research Coordinator, talks about how our bursary scheme has continued to develop and teach us new things throughout 2015...

What is our bursary scheme?

2015 was the second year of our bursary scheme. It can provide funding of up to €3,500 to support research on youth mental health.

The scheme is available to support post-graduate students studying in the areas of health or social sciences. Students who are completing a piece of research, generally a dissertation for a Masters, or as part of their clinical training in psychology or psychiatry, can apply to the scheme. Applications have to clearly show how their research is directly related to youth mental health and fits with our Mission and Values.

Supporting wider research into youth mental health.

We promote the scheme online and directly through universities, usually in the late summer.

It’s all pretty simple. People are invited to apply, and then fill out a proposal form which is assessed by a panel. We make a decision based on the quality of the proposal, how well the research fits with our work in Jigsaw, and how it could support and further what do.

The bursary can be used for a number of different things. For example, some people use it to pay for a Research Assistant or to attend a conference. If it’s a large project, they might need help with entering data, or transcribing interviews. Other people use it to buy software, copyrighted questionnaires, or a tool that they might not have had access to if they weren’t funded. Essentially, we want it to support people in producing good research and sharing what they’ve learnt. At the same time, for us it is about increasing interest in youth mental health research across Ireland, and helping to develop a network of skilled researchers and experts.

Influencing how we work in the future

We’ve learnt a lot from the six bursaries that we funded across 2014 and 2015.

We invited the participants to an event to tell us about their projects, some of which are already having a direct impact on how we think and do things within Jigsaw.

For example, one bursary participant measured the changes in wellbeing of young people who engaged with our Jigsaw Service in Donegal. We spoke about the findings from this project at the event, and there was a lot of learning from the research that is helping us to test and roll out a measure of wellbeing across a number of our Jigsaw Services in 2016.

At the event, we also discussed how the bursary scheme could be developed further, which included suggestions on how it could be expanded. One question we considered was how we can support research that isn’t solely focussed on clinical interventions, but still fits with delivering on our Mission and Values. It was a great discussion, and has given us a direction on how to further develop the scheme for 2016.

One of the key things that we do in the Research and Evaluation team, is show and understand how Jigsaw works for our young people.

Louise Dolphin, Acting Research Coordinator.

Research papers published in 2015

1. O'Reilly, A., Illback, R., Peiper, N., O'Keeffe, L., & Clayton, R. (2015).

Youth engagement with an emerging Irish mental health early intervention programme (Jigsaw): participant characteristics and implications for service delivery. Journal of Mental Health, 24(5), 283-288.

Our aim...
Moving to adulthood can be a critical period for a young person’s mental health, but access to and use of mental health services by young people is poor. Our Jigsaw Service is a response to the challenge of transforming how young people access mental health support. By looking at data within our online Jigsaw Data System, this article gives an overview of the characteristics of young people engaging with Jigsaw Services.

What we found...
The majority of young people engaging with our Jigsaw Service were female, aged 15-17 years, and were referred by their parents. Over half were in full-time education, although many 21-25 year olds were unemployed. Young people presented with a range of diffculties which varied by age and gender. They reported high levels of distress, with age and gender having a significant impact on their well-being.

What we learnt...
The study provides emerging evidence to support the need for an early intervention component, like Jigsaw, within the mental health care system.


2. Peiper, N., Illback, R. J., O'Reilly, A., & Clayton, R. (2015).

Latent class analysis of need descriptors within an Irish youth mental health early intervention programme toward a typology of need. Early Intervention in Psychiatry.

Our aim...
By looking at the data within our online Jigsaw Data System, this paper examined the backgrounds of the young people engaging in brief interventions at Jigsaw to understand the differences and similarities of the mental health needs of young people in Ireland.

What we found...
The most common age of young people engaging with the Jigsaw Service was 16. More women (59.6%) than men engaged in brief interventions, 56% attended school, 74% lived with their family of origin or with one parent, and 54.2% came from families where parents were married. Using established fit criteria, four relevant typologies emerged: Developmental (26.8%), Comorbid (15.8%), Anxious (42.7%) and Externalising (14.6%). Predictors varied by class membership, but general family problems and lack of adult support emerged as the strongest predictors for all classes.

What we learnt...
The study demonstrated that the mental health needs of young people in Ireland are significant and diverse. Because Jigsaw favours a more descriptive approach to identifying young people’s problems, the four typologies suggest a need to determine program capacity in engaging youth with mixed presenting issues and to tailor brief interventions to each group's clinical profiles.


3. O’Keefe, L., O’Reilly, A., O’Brien, G., Buckley, R., & Illback, R. (2015)

Description and outcome evaluation of Jigsaw: an emergent Irish mental health early intervention programme for young people. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 32(01), 71-77.

Our aim...
This study aimed to profile young people who use the˙Jigsaw Service, in one calendar year, and to provide evidence that Jigsaw’s model facilitates the reduction of psychological distress.

What we found...
A gender balance was almost observed, and the majority of participants were between 15 and 17 years old. The most common presenting issue was anxiety and the most common referral sources were self, parent, general practitioner, school and Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS). Participants reported high levels of psychological distress pre-intervention and levels were significantly lower post-intervention.

What we learnt...
Although a lack of control group limits interpretation of the study findings, this study provides emerging evidence that Jigsaw is an accessible and effective service which plays a key role in the continuum of mental health care for young people in Ireland.