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Aug 2015 by PCI College

Connection Profile: Headstrong

Dr Gillian O’Brien, Director of Clinical Governance for Headstrong, explains what the work of Headstrong and its Jigsaw programme is all about, and how you can support and promote youth mental health.

Headstrong is leading the change across Ireland in youth mental health. Through research, engagement and service provision in the form of Jigsaw, we represent a new approach to promoting and supporting youth mental health.


How do we support young people?
In Headstrong, we work in three distinct ways:

•    Through listening, learning and working together we designed our Jigsaw programme, to ensure that young people have somewhere to turn to and someone to talk to when they are facing difficulty in their lives.


Headstrong Image

•    We engage with young people through including them at every stage of our design, planning and recruitment, and in empowering them to speak in their own voice and work with us to influence national policy and public discourse.

•    Finally, research is a critical part of Headstrong enabling us to deepen our understanding of young people’s mental health experience, and rigorously evaluate the benefits they derive from Jigsaw.

Jigsaw logo

What is Jigsaw?
Jigsaw provides free, confidential, brief mental health support for young people aged 12-25. Our Jigsaw projects have been designed in partnership with young people to create warm, welcoming spaces. Our staff teams are trained mental health professionals and we’re committed to delivering a safe, high quality service with our local partners and the HSE. We ensure that our young people get the right help through joined-up work with other services.

Each Jigsaw also aims to build the confidence and capacity of all those concerned with the welfare of young people, including front line workers and volunteers, in that particular community by helping them to support young people’s mental health and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health difficulties.

Currently Jigsaw is in 10 communities around Ireland - Donegal, Dublin (Tallaght, Clondalkin, Dublin 15 and North Fingal (Ballbriggan)), Galway, Kerry, Meath, Offaly and Roscommon.

Young people can make contact with a Jigsaw Hub directly, as can their parents or professionals who are seeking to link a young person in with the Jigsaw service. There is no charge for this service and it matters to young people and their families that a GP referral is not required.

The clinical team carry out an initial screening with the young person where they explore their concerns in a safe, confidential space and determine what level of support is required. Sometimes the young person may be supported to access a service more appropriate to their needs.

When Jigsaw is the appropriate brief and early intervention service for a young person, they are offered up to six one to one sessions with a member of the clinical team. Here the young people learn important skills and coping strategies for living.


Jigsaw programme group

Three ways to support and promote youth mental health
Here are three easy ways in which you can support Headstrong in promoting and supporting the mental health of young people in Ireland:

1.)    Keep in touch through our enewsletter
2.)    Make a donation online
3.)    Follow us on Twitter or Facebook and spread the word



Dr. Gillian O'Brien, (August 2015)

Director of Clinical Governance, Headstong

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