New health service to target young people with mental health problems

A new health service, the first of its kind for young people in Ireland, will open in the city today (Thursday ).

Jigsaw Galway, which is based at 18 Mary Street, is part of a national programme which aims to provide “more accessible and responsive services” to 15 to 25-year-olds with emerging mental health problems.

Programme manager John Fitzmaurice says the service aims to intervene early when young people may be in crisis.

“Services like this are criticial in being able to reduce our unacceptable high rates of youth suicide,” he says.

“The key purpose of our base in Mary Street is to ensure that when young people seek help they get an immediate response from one of the workers who, in partnership with the young person, will work out what supports they may need, be it a GP, a counsellor or support worker who already has a good rapport with the young person.”

Jigsaw, which is a partnership between Headstrong (The National Centre for Youth Mental Health ), the local HSE and Mental Health Ireland, will provide both a direct service to young people and families requiring support and those working with young people.

Dr Tony Bates, founding director of Headstrong, says all young people have mental health needs.

“However, many young people don’t get the help or support when they need it. Jigsaw aims to provide a more immediate response to young people, whatever their concern.

“This type of approach is based on world’s best practice and will redefine how we think about mental health for young people. This will go a long way to ensuring young people with emerging mental health problems get the help and support they need as early as possible.”

The HSE says because Jigsaw is a county-wide initiative young people can access it in a number of ways by dropping in, telephoning, internet or through services in the community, such as schools/colleges and sports clubs which are part of the Jigsaw Galway network. Services will also be provided on an outreach basis to other parts of Galway county.

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