The context Our strategy

…our new vision is one that better understands, cares for and values our young people’s mental health.

Our organisational values will guide our actions and behaviours and influence the way we work with each other and how we serve our various audiences. We will live our values in our everyday behaviours and actions.

The context for our strategy

Over the last fifteen years in Ireland we have seen an opening up in the public debate on mental health, which it is important to recognise and welcome. Along with the development and publication of key government policies, such as A Vision for Change and the Healthy Ireland Framework 2013 -2025, we have seen a significant positive shift in how communities view, talk about, respond to and support young people’s mental health.

However, despite this, we know that mental health remains the number one concern for young people in Ireland, and that too many are still in crisis.

Jigsaw are concerned that mental health support services across primary and secondary care remain stretched and under-resourced; areas such as research and stigma reduction remain under-invested in and there is still a long way to go in areas such as digital mental health supports, school supports and services operating outside 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday:

  • Almost 7,000 children under the age of 17 were waiting for an appointment with a Health Service Executive psychologist at the end of July 2018
  • Recruitment of qualified staff remains a key challenge. As of September 2018, there were 9,830 whole time equivalents working in the mental health services. This represents just 77% of the staffng required in HSE mental health services, as recommended in A Vision for Change
  • At only 6% of the total health budget, Ireland’s spending on the delivery of mental health supports remains modest when compared to our neighbours. In 2018 we spent less than half the proportion spent by the UK (12%), and are still not achieving the 8.24% proposed in A Vision for Change
  • 15 out of Ireland’s 26 counties have no out-of-hours mental health support service for children

Jigsaw knows that this is not an Ireland-only problem. Many countries around the world are facing and struggling to tackle a mental health crisis, from epidemics of anxiety and depression to conditions caused by violence and trauma. There is a collective failure to adequately respond to this global health crisis.

What is clear is that the burden of mental ill-health is rising everywhere and the quality of mental health services is usually worse than the quality of general health provision.

So far, the conventional global approach to mental health focuses on the treatment of mental illness, as well as efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. While these are valid, they are reactive and focus on risk factors for poor mental health rather than on how to promote and maintain positive mental health and wellbeing.

At Jigsaw, we believe in a proactive, early intervention approach aimed at the promotion of positive mental health that is associated with better physical health, improved interpersonal relationships and socially healthier societies.

Over the 13 years since we were founded, we have contributed to and achieved some significant successes in supporting the mental health of young people across Ireland, including:

  • 13 Jigsaw services established across the country, between them supporting over 28,000 young people to date
  • youth advisory panels made up of youth volunteers developed to advise, guide and promote the work of Jigsaw
  • reaching over 1,000 professionals who engaged in training; and tens of thousands members of the public who 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

The friendly atmosphere is comfortable and easy-going, it almost feels like home. The support is amazing it’s a very communal place.

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

Our strategy

Our Jigsaw strategy (2018-2020) is the result of a collective process which provided a much valued opportunity for reflection and clarification. In setting out our vision and mission and the priorities that will help us realise them, we look forward to helping to change the mental health landscape for young people in Ireland.

The process we undertook to develop the new strategy was wide-ranging and involved consultations with a diversity of internal and external stakeholders including staff, young people, the board, key funders and donors, members of the public, users of our services, nd key actors (nationally and internationally) in the youth mental health space.

Jigsaw’s strategy (2018-2020) builds on our successes of the past 13 years and lessons learnt. We will remain an organisation committed to supporting the mental health of Ireland’s young people, working with them and their surrounding communities through both our services and educational programmes. And we will continue to adopt and encourage others to follow a proactive, early intervention approach.

To support this intent, we have restated our vision and mission as follows:

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

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

I felt so relaxed and comfortable, felt like I could say anything and not be judged. The change in me is remarkable, all thanks to Jigsaw.

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

In order to achieve our mission, we have identified three strategic priorities and sets of objectives 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.


  • Communicate widely Jigsaw’s prevention and early intervention approach to youth mental health
  • Deliver robust research and evidence to better inform systems change and effective service delivery and to increase our collective understanding of youth mental health
  • Be a strong voice in influencing public policy and conversation, through an evidence informed approach

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 Ireland’s communities, enabling a better understanding of our collective responsibility in supporting young people’s mental health.


  • Increase awareness of the collective role of communities in supporting young people’s mental health and enhance the mental health literacy of the entire population
  • Improve our collaboration and partnerships with other services, to create a more integrated system of mental health care for young people
  • Build the confidence and competence of young people, their families, communities and other settings to support 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.


  • Provide an early intervention mental health service for 12-25 years olds in local communities that is accessible visible, impactful, inclusive and timely
  • Evolve and enhance our Jigsaw services for young people
  • Open additional Jigsaw services so more young people can access the service in the their local community
  • Develop emental health supports for young people, their families and those around them

Achievements of note against key performance indicators and aims for the year 2018 are reported under each strategic priority in the following sections of this report.

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

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