Jigsaw: An Irish mental health service shaped by young people for young people

Presentation First Author: 
Aoife Price


Jigsaw is a primary care youth mental health service for 12-25 year olds in Ireland. Information drawn from various sources indicates that Jigsaw is acceptable to and effective for young people struggling with their mental health. The emerging evidence indicates that young people report significantly lower levels of distress following completion of a brief intervention in Jigsaw (O’Keeffe, O’Reilly, O’Brien, Buckley & Illback, 2014); the feedback from young people on the Jigsaw Satisfaction Survey is overwhelmingly positive and self –referral rates are relatively high. We believe that the key ingredient to this evolving and successful model of youth mental health service provision is the extensive and meaningful participation of young people in all aspects of Jigsaw.


This presentation will highlight how meaningful participation of young people is the key ingredient in designing and delivering a mental health service that works for young people. This presentation is also intended to make the case for increasing and deepening the level of interaction and engagement between mental health service providers and the end users of those services.


The impact that youth participation has on every aspect of the experience of a young person using the Jigsaw service will be underscored by outlining the path a young person takes from their initial contact with Jigsaw to completion of their final intervention session. It’s the little things that communicate to every young person who crosses the threshold of Jigsaw that they are welcome, worthwhile and valued that make a difference. The Youth Advisory Panels are crucial in tuning the organisation into these little things and ensuring we never lose sight of the basics; a welcoming smile and the offer of a cup of tea. The voice of young people is present at every level of the organisation from the Board of Directors and management meetings to interview panels and team meetings.

Practice / Policy Implications

To support this approach, dedicated youth engagement staff are essential to work alongside the young people and to drive a meaningful youth participation agenda within the organisation.


When youth participation is embedded into the organisational culture, it can have very real and meaningful impact on the quality of service provided to young people struggling with their mental health.

Conference Name: 
Date of Presentation: 
9th Oct 2015
Type of presentation: 
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