Home > The ‘Jigsaw’ puzzle of mental health.

[Irish Medical Times] , Houston, Muiris The ‘Jigsaw’ puzzle of mental health. (17 May 2012)

External website: http://www.imt.ie/opinion/2012/05/the-jigsaw-puzzl...

I’ve heard many positive reports about Jigsaw, the community mental health service for young people. Among other places, it’s active in Galway city, and young people and students around these parts speak of it highly.

Jigsaw is an initiative set up by Headstrong, the organisation founded by clinical psychologist Tony Bates. Since it started, it has done immense work in the area of young peoples’ psychological health.

Now, in collaboration with UCD School of Psychology, Headstrong has carried out one of the most comprehensive studies of mental health ever undertaken in Ireland.

What about drink and drugs? This is the first national study to track drinking behaviour and then link it to mental health. Some 45 per cent of young people, from 12 to 25, have drinking habits that are problematic, harmful or even show dependency. This increases to a worrying 61 per cent for young adults between 17 and 25. And this excessive drinking is having serious effects on young people’s mental health, their levels of depression and stress.

We now know young people increase their drink consumption from age 13-14; they move outside the normal range of alcohol consumption at age 18-19 and remain above it until age 25. And for the first time we know, from evidence, that drink is impacting not just on young people’s physical health, but on their mental health too.

But over one-third of young people do not talk or seek informal help when they have problems. Those who know that they have emotional difficulties but who do not seek necessary formal help have the highest levels of distress and the lowest well-being.

Which brings us to what I consider one of the key aspects of the research: the concept that one ‘Good Adult’ is central to the mental health of young people.


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