...every young person benefits from interacting with an adult in their life who is confident in their ability to listen, to provide encouragement and be their One Good Adult®....

Dr Gillian O’Brien, Director of Clinical Governance
What are our services? Young people at the centre of what we do Increasing knowledge and understanding within the community Building resilience through early intervention A skilled team of mental health professionals Working with schools and the local community

What are our services?

Dr Gillian O’Brien, our Director of Clinical Governance, talks about the services we provide, the value they bring to communities and how they make a difference to the mental health of our young people...

With Jigsaw, there is no problem too small

Jigsaw provides a broad, accessible service to young people aged 12 -25 years. The breadth of our service is reflective of the large variation in issues and pressures facing young people in Ireland today.

’There’s no problem too small’ is an important feature of our ethos in creating a safe space for young people to access support. There is no minimum threshold of distress a young person must cross in order to access help in Jigsaw.

We believe this is incredibly important as it allows us to convey to young people that no matter what their issue they will not be judged or dismissed, it also facilitates the early identification of mental health issues.

A big challenge for us as a country is to encourage young people to seek help before they reach crisis point, and before their difficulties become entrenched. Jigsaw is part of a movement which looks to empower young people to seek help for things that, often times, their own parents would not have dared to seek help for in the recent past.

That’s why it’s critical that Jigsaw is a warm and welcoming space. These might not be qualities we traditionally associated with mental health services in the past, but these are some of the key ingredients of Jigsaw’s success.

The anonymous feedback we have received from hundreds of young people who have used our service frequently highlights the importance of being met with a friendly face, a welcoming smile and a warm, inviting space.

Why Jigsaw is the answer

The high demand for the Jigsaw service in each of the 10 communities it serves is testament to the need for an accessible, developmentally appropriate youth mental health service designed in partnership with young people.

Jigsaw offers a robust primary care mental health service to young people who do not meet the criteria for specialist mental health services, but need support that is responsive and easy to access.

There is no need for a professional referral to Jigsaw and we work hard to make sure that we offer young people an appointment within a matter of weeks of them making contact with us.

We work alongside other organisations and young people in the community as we believe that the key to creating communities which support young peoples’ mental health lies in the cooperation, collaboration and creative efforts between those stakeholders.

Building understanding and knowledge in communities

Jigsaw offers a brief therapeutic support service to young people to help them to cope with the challenges they face. One of the unique things about Jigsaw however is that it has a lot to offer the community in addition to these individual supports.

In our experience, young people experience mental health difficulties for many reasons, and their mental health distress is not simply located in the individual young person.

We believe that young people are rooted in wider systems such as families, communities, schools, neighbourhoods and peer groups. So in Jigsaw we seek to strengthen these networks around young people through capacity building workshops and community engagement.

Not every young person needs to come into a service like Jigsaw, but every young person benefits from interacting with an adult in their life who is confident in their ability to listen, to provide encouragement and be their One Good Adult®.

All our workshops focus on building more compassionate communities – communities of people who have basic mental health literacy and can ‘be there’ for all our young people.

A safe and supportive environment

Whilst it’s important that a young person experiences Jigsaw as a relaxed, informal environment, behind the scenes our governance structures and processes are robust and clear.

Our clinical teams are comprised of qualified clinical, counselling, and educational psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and occupational therapists. Regular clinical supervision, training and professional development opportunities ensure that our work with young people is safe, effective and of a consistently high standard.

We are committed to continuously improving and refining the service we provide and seek feedback from young people and our Youth Advisory Panel on an ongoing basis.

Jigsaw works

Put very simply, we know Jigsaw works.

Our outcome measures show us that young people who attend Jigsaw report significantly reduced levels of psychological distress at the end of their Jigsaw sessions. Over 90% of young people who completed our Jigsaw Satisfaction Survey told us that they received the support they needed from Jigsaw, and 95% of them also said when asked that that they would recommend Jigsaw to a friend. Our workshops and training events in the community are consistently rated highly by those who attend and are successful in increasing attendees’ confidence and competence in relation to supporting young peoples’ mental health.

Young people at the centre of what we do

Lorna, a member of our Youth Advisory Panel in Jigsaw Offaly in 2015, talks about what it means to her to be part of a group of young people who help to shape how Jigsaw works

Helping to ensure Jigsaw works for young people

I’m part of the Youth Advisory Panel at Jigsaw Offaly, or the YAP, as we like to call it. It is a group of 12-20 young people who have an interest in mental health and the welfare of people their age.

Our role as YAP members is to ensure the service is as welcoming and friendly as possible to those using the service. We advise the staff members on how the service should be run, how the Hub is decorated on the inside and outside and we also contribute to the fundraising and advertising of the service to ensure as many people as possible know that Jigsaw is here in County Offaly.

I decided to join the YAP as I have always had an interest in mental health and thought that young people should have someone to talk to if they should need it. I thought Jigsaw was a great place to get involved in because they were unlike any other service out there. The staff are friendly and are always open to the new ideas of the YAP members.

Supporting me and supporting others

Over the last two years I’ve received many opportunities from being on the YAP.

Apart from making so many new friends with the other members, I’ve met ministers and politicians, both local and national, and have spoken to them about the needs and issues of young people today. We had our success-ful launch where Minister Kathleen Lynch officially opened the service, but the YAP made it our own with pizza and sweets available to all who came. We also fundraised very successfully throughout the year too and this went towards improving the service.

I’ve gained an awful lot from being a YAP member as I now have the confidence to speak in front of crowds of hundreds of people and this has helped me in my everyday life too. Due to the work I did at Jigsaw, I started up a programme for 12-15 year olds on cyberbullying and went to various schools in the Midlands, educating and helping them with the everyday issue of cyberbullying.

Everyone should know what Jigsaw is

With the help of the YAP, Jigsaw now has links in many of the secondary schools in Offaly and this has helped in the promotion of the service among young people.

Also, a directory has been made as part of the Read Your Mind project full of recommendations of books on various subjects to do with mental health. All the books are available free of charge in all libraries in Offaly, thanks to the Jigsaw Offaly team.

In the future I’m hoping that Jigsaw will grow and everyone in Offaly will know what we are. It is an important service to our community and should be availed by all who need it. I also hope in the future for new, younger and older YAP members to join, as it is key to have a variety of people on our panel.

Our role as YAP members is to ensure the service is as welcoming and friendly as possible to those using the service.

Lorna, Youth Advisory Panel, Jigsaw Offaly.

Jigsaw Virtual Tour

Take a look around one of our Jigsaw Services with this virtual tour video...

Increasing knowledge and understanding within the community

Siobhán McGrory, our Education and Training Manager, talks about how throughout 2015 we’ve increased the capacity and confidence of frontline workers and volunteers so that they can support the mental health needs of young people...

A wide range of workshops...

In 2015 we’ve trained more than 12,000 people to support the mental health needs of young people.

The Education and Training programme in Jigsaw works to benefit and support all members of a community, not just specific individuals or groups. As part of a broader programme, we offer a number of different workshops and training to cover a range of needs in the community. All with the aim of contributing to Jigsaw’s mission of changing how Ireland thinks about young people’s mental health.

We constantly evaluate what we do. This shows that participants report a greater understanding of youth mental health and the issues facing young people, an increased ability to identify the signs of mental health difficulty, and a better understanding of help-seeking patterns amongst young people.

Deepening understanding of young people

It’s really interesting that our training increases our own understanding of how young people look for help.

Jigsaw has always been committed to deepening our understanding of young people, and that is constantly reality checked through our frontline work in education and training. The people who take part in our training report an increased confidence in their ability to respond to young people experiencing mental health difficulties.

Findings also revealed that participants who attended our training report a greater understanding of the importance of resilience and how to build resilience in young people. Furthermore, participants express an increased awareness of the role they can play as supportive adults in young people’s lives.

A peer education programme so young people can share knowledge with each other

Our peer education programme developed in 2014, is going from strength to strength.

James Barry, who at the time was out Youth Engagement Coordinator and Dr Aileen O Reilly, our Research Coordinator, collaborated with the Education and Training team to provide a peer education programme through 2014.

In 2015 we continue to see the positive impact with 30 young people from Jigsaw Dublin 15 training a further 1,000 young people in their schools.

Jigsaw gives young people a voice to talk about their concerns and find solutions that work for them. We provide somewhere to turn to, and someone to talk to.

Building resilience through early intervention

Here we share the stories of three young people that Jigsaw has supported in 2015…

James* - How Jigsaw became a safe place for me to work through my concerns

James talks about the first time he went to Jigsaw and how it became a safe place for him to work through his concerns...

It was just after I turned 17, my mood plummeted one day. I remember the day it happened. I felt like life was pointless.

I stopped looking after myself. I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t paying attention in school. I just felt absolutely miserable. It started off as an existential crisis and I think just went straight to depression. This went on for a few months… around the same time, my grandfather was dying. It was a very tough few months. So a guidance counsellor at school told me about Jigsaw.

I was a bit resistant to acknowledging that something was wrong, I’m not sure why. I think there was an expectation in my mind that my problems weren’t to be taken seriously, or that other people had it worse. It seemed to me that if I went to Jigsaw, I would have been making too much of a fuss.

Also, I wasn’t really that confident. I had been bullied a lot in school. Even in situations like that, I would never bring stuff up. For example, there were incidents, once or twice, where I’d been beaten at school and I didn’t want to bring that up at home.

Giving Jigsaw a try

But I figured I’d give Jigsaw a try and went for a few weeks. I remember the people in Jigsaw were very nice.

I was surprised by how friendly people were and that they offered tea and coffee while I was waiting. The first couple of weeks, I was just trying to feel comfortable there but after a while, we got to the nitty gritty, to the difficult stuff.

We basically talked through all the stuff that was bothering me – that was nice, because I didn’t feel like I could do that through any other channel. I didn’t have really close friendships at the time.

It helped having a place to just say what was on my mind

It meant I could go home and feel like that there was a load off my mind. I could feel comfortable just going home and doing whatever I wanted.

I realised that I became better at school. I was very intent on doing good in my Leaving Cert so that I could get out of school, because obviously, school was not a happy place for me. It meant that if something upset me I knew that I could work through it the next time I went to Jigsaw. It helped having a place for me to just say what was on my mind, what was bothering me and try to figure out something to do about it.

I think I realised through coming to Jigsaw that a lot of the stuff that was causing my difficulties, was spending too much time being idle. For some reason or another, I had a lot of free time to myself. I never really had much luck getting work for the summer so I think I was a frustrated workaholic! Once I had gone to college and started making friends, started having stuff to do, it became clearer and clearer that for my own happiness I needed projects, and responsibilities and stuff like that. It’s obvious now that if I have too much free time, it does tend to drive me a bit loopy.

We basically talked through all the stuff that was bothering me – that was nice, because I didn’t feel like I could do that through any other channel.

James*, a young person who attended Jigsaw for support with his mental health.

Mark* – Jigsaw helped me through a tough time

Mark talks about how Jigsaw helped him through a tough time when he had to make some hard decisions.

It was a difficult time for me last September when I moved to France for Erasmus. This was a dream for me – for years and years, I’ve wanted to live abroad. It’s what I came to college to do. It was all I had wanted.

Then I went and I wasn’t enjoying it and the disappointment of it was kind of overwhelming. I didn’t really want to admit that I wasn’t enjoying it because then I felt like a failure. I remember talking to my parents and they suggested that maybe I should come home. This was too big a decision for me to take lightly. So I came to Jigsaw and started talking to the team to see how it was impacting my mental health. I came to Jigsaw at the start of January while I was still unsure whether or not to quit the Erasmus year. I was under incredible stress to make a decision that had the baggage of fear of failure attached.

Jigsaw helped in the decision-making. I made the list of pros and cons and I think it helped put that in perspective. Jigsaw also helped me to come to terms with the decision I made because it was very difficult and I was second guessing myself all the time. I came back to Ireland in March so I had more or less a semester off then, and I had no luck finding work, so I needed to find stuff to do. I was still coming to terms with the decision I’d made. Coming to Jigsaw helped to calm my mind, because there was a lot of stuff to deal with on my return to Ireland.

I felt as if I wasn’t being judged, that I could talk about what was concerning me without the fear that I would be ignored or have my trust broken. There have been noticeable changes that I think I can credit partly to Jigsaw. I became a bit brighter. More comfortable in myself. My parents had even noticed that when I came back for Christmas I looked gaunt and pale but when I came back to Ireland properly, I started looking healthier.

If I were to give someone advice about coming in to Jigsaw, I’d say don’t to be afraid of judgement because you’re meeting an absolute stranger who doesn’t know you, and if it doesn’t work out you don’t have to come back. At least give it a chance until you’re comfortable enough to let it out. They won’t say it to anybody. Don’t be afraid and don’t let the stuff that matters ball up inside you. Even if you don’t think it’s that serious, just say it out loud anyway and see what happens.

Jonathan* – He needed support with his confidence...

Jonathan’s aunt talks about how visiting Jigsaw has helped him to rebuild his confidence. Jigsaw is a safe place where Jonathan can work through his concerns, and identify ways to begin to look after his mental health.

Jonathan’s mother was drinking, and from time to time in hospital with her mental health. His Dad was the stable parent in the relationship, but we lost him after a tragic accident. His mother couldn’t help her addiction to alcohol, so she was open to me fostering Jonathan. He came to live with me at the age of seven and his first few years were great, but as he got to puberty things started to slide. It broke my heart when his friends stopped knocking and he started isolating himself.

He’s a really intelligent young fella and likes reading. After our first big conversation about how he was feeling, he left one of his books, The Fault in Our Stars, on the hall landing with a note that said, ‘Read the first page’. He was trying to tell me something, but he hadn’t the words.

I knew that something was not right

One day I got a series of texts from him in school. I could tell that he was anxious. When I collected him that day, he got distressed and spieled off all the things that were upsetting him.

I like to take action, so we visited my doctor who referred Jonathan to Jigsaw. Since then, he has been more positive and active in public situations, such as going to the cinema and hanging out with friends in school. One night I went to collect him from the cinema. I knew well enough that I had to wait back and not be seen, so that I wouldn’t mortify him. A young girl gave him a hug and my heart soared. It was fantastic to see him out being social and enjoying himself. The other thing is that he has become much more considerate. He’d often put the kettle on now and ask if anyone would like a cup of tea, or sit with us chatting.

Jonathan doesn’t discuss what he does at Jigsaw. I respect his privacy, so I don’t ask. I don’t need to ask, because we all see the changes in him for the better.

* We have changed the names to protect the privacy of the young people who are willing to share their story.

Jules Thompson; Clinical Coordinator for Jigsaw North Fingal
Olive Moloney; Clinical Coordinator for Jigsaw Kerry

A skilled team of mental health professionals

We have a team of skilled mental health professionals working across our 10 local Jigsaw Services. We met with two of them to talk about what motivates their work and drew them to working in youth mental health…

Jules Thompson
Clinical Coordinator from Jigsaw North Fingal

Sit with Jules Thompson in Jigsaw North Fingal and you’ll be left in no doubt than this clinician loves young people. She studied Greek and Roman with sociology for her first degree in Maynooth and followed this up with a second degree in psychology at the Dublin Business School.

She then worked for three years with people in rehabilitation who had mental health difficulties. “I was a trainer in independent living and personal development skills and I absolutely loved it.” Eve Holdings was Jules’ first employer and she also worked for a time with St Michael’s House.

Jules was delighted to be accepted onto the Masters in counselling psychology at Trinity College. This intense two-year course combined theory and practice and provided Jules with a thorough grounding and added another layer to her learning. During this time she worked in student counselling at the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology as well as three days a week at Pieta House. She also had private clients and combined all three roles at opposite sides of the city. “I just flourished because I was passionate about my work and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. This work has always given me great meaning.”

I had always been aware of Jigsaw but when the time came and I was recruited, I was so happy to be part of a service for young people where our team could make an impact and feel that encouragement as we watch change happening in the lives of the young people we’re working with. It’s also so heartening to witness these young people sound us out, hold back, and observe them checking and testing to see if we’re on their side. Once they make that choice we watch them walk over a bridge where they decide ‘I’ll give this a shot’. We watch their mood lift and see them become future oriented and hopeful – that’s just such a privilege. All of us agree that we meet our young people where they are at. We’re on their side. We use lots of creative techniques in our sessions and the whiteboard and marker are crucial to visually map our work. Personally, I also like using a practical cognitive behaviour therapy exercise where we catch hot thoughts, rate them, check out the evidence we have to support this thought and then together explore balanced alternative thoughts. It sounds easy but it’s powerful.

Young people have great energy and they often continue to think and work on issues between sessions. It’s such an honour to be let into their world. Our team at Jigsaw North Fingal is really open and collaborative. We also are here for each other and provide support after hard sessions. We get regular supervision too so that we all feel connected and empowered. At the end of every day – I’m proud to say I work for Jigsaw and that we’re making a difference. That matters to me.

Olive Moloney
Clinical Coordinator for Jigsaw Kerry

Olive studied Applied Psychology and then Forensic Psychology at UCC, before working in England in forensic services and going on to study Clinical Psychology at the University of East London. She is passionate about using psychology with communities to improve social and health inequalities.

On graduating as a clinical psychologist in 2010, Olive joined MAC-UK, a charity which works to make mental health accessible to excluded young people. After working with them for five years, running and setting up projects across London and taking various leadership roles within the organisation, Olive felt drawn to come back to Ireland.

She felt that it was time to slow down and be nearer to family, so she started exploring jobs in Ireland. “I found A Vision for Change (the Government plan for Mental Health) inspiring and I wanted to get home to a place where I feel I belong, feel understood, and could make a difference to my own community’s mental health alongside people who use services.

In London I saw first-hand that the young second and third generation Irish are disproportionately represented in the mental health system, as are travellers of Irish origin.” People’s hidden stories of discrimination and cultural struggle stood out for Olive, and her doctoral research touched on the experience of second generation Irish young people in a particular area of London as feeling like “ghosts” – both able to blend into the background when wanted, but also ignored.

Olive and her colleagues in the UK argued for a more explicit social, economic and culturally appropriate focus on the hidden needs of minority groups, something that Olive takes with her to Kerry where the population may be small but it is also diverse and the same untold stories of migrants, ethnic minorities, as well as those of Irish young people, can be heard beneath the surface.

Coming to Jigsaw Kerry has been incredible. The work our predecessors have done to embed Jigsaw in the community and develop trust makes all our jobs that bit easier. Not knowing what to expect, I was gratefully surprised by the number and quality of ground breaking organisations in Kerry, and the deep fabric of connectedness that exists there. It has been deeply gratifying to see the goals of Jigsaw articulated and in full operation. People are proud of and feel ownership of Jigsaw Kerry.

When I saw the ad for Clinical Coordinator in Kerry, I knew this was the job for me, and I was lucky to get it! It excites me that my team and colleagues across Jigsaw want to create quality services together, to innovate and take justifiable risks in order to learn what works and what doesn’t, and to share their learning - there’s a palpable dynamism across Jigsaw.

‘The Kerry way’ and the ‘London way’ are more similar to Olive than she might have expected - in that good, well-integrated work is dependent on developing meaningful relationships with young people, the communities of Kerry and other organisations, something that Olive lights up about. “Jigsaw is part of the solution and as such it works best alongside other services. The integrity of the team and other services stands out, which leads to a mutual trust and respect – I find this refreshing and it certainly makes our work easier. Relationships are fundamental to how we do our work and there’s a high level of commitment to these relationships across all services for young people in County Kerry. It’s an energetic place to work in and we have a fantastic team.

The generosity of everyone Olive meets in Kerry strikes her time and again - generosity for both the Jigsaw team and for young people.

One of the best parts of every month for the clinical team at Jigsaw Kerry is when they comb through the Satisfaction Surveys completed by young people who have been to Jigsaw. “We’re planning to run a workshop for the parents and guardians of young people who have used Jigsaw Kerry. We’re grateful for the feedback we hear from them, and the young people, about what Jigsaw has meant to them – it’s what keeps the team working so hard!

Working with schools and the local community

Carmel Daly, our Jigsaw Schools Coordinator, talks about how our Headstogether Project, piloted in 2015, is showing the value of schools supporting young people with their mental health...

Young people want to support each other

The minute I walk into a school now, I can feel the culture in the ether. I see it on the walls, in the halls, in the faces of the students, in their friendliness to visitors and I just love that we get a chance to influence this generation and enable them to cope with the challenges that life can sometimes bring.

We don’t just talk at young people about their mental health, they are far too savvy for that approach. But they will listen to their peers and they always respond to a kindly, genuine interest in what they are going through if it’s a friend or peer who’s concerned.

Schools can spot young people experiencing emotional distress

In our Headstogether programme for post-primary schools, we know how school settings are uniquely placed to promote mental health and wellbeing.

The team in schools can spot the young people who are experiencing emotional distress. Headstogether promotes help-seeking for substance misuse related to mental health.

We work with students, teachers and parents. I feel that the strength of Headstogether is that it is a programme focussed on supporting teachers to have those open-ended, sensitive conversations with young people about their mental health. By doing this, it tries to help young people in overcoming the challenge of seeking help in times of distress.

People have an appetite for learning about mental health

In 2015 we worked with more than 520 students in nine schools, trained 31 teachers and 130 school staff, and ran six parent evenings.

We see such a hunger for this learning. People, families, schools and young people have an appetite for sound information that makes sense.

I love supporting the mental health of young people, and empowering them to support themselves. And I firmly believe that knowledge is only power when it’s shared.