Spike in demand for mental health services ahead of State exams

Jigsaw says anxiety and stress are most common issues as it sees demand jump 35%

A national centre for youth mental health says it has recorded a 35 per cent increase in the number of young people engaging with its services in the run-up to the summer exams.

Jigsaw says anxiety and stress are the most common mental health difficulties young people are seeking support for.

Latest 12-month figures show the organisation supported more than 4,000 young people.

The latest figures were announced as the charity launched a new mental health website, jigsawonline.ie, which it says provides free information on all aspects of youth mental health for parents, young people and teachers.


It includes personal stories, and videos from Jigsaw clinicians as well as young people themselves on a variety of topics such as relationships, bullying, consent, and managing stress and anxiety.

It says additional features such as instant messaging, live group sessions, lesson plans and onscreen supports will be rolled out as the resource develops in the coming months.

Expansion plans

Parents and guardians can also avail of an online guide to accessing youth mental health services with details of referral pathways and costs for the various services provided.

"Creating jigsawonline.ie has long been part of Jigsaw's wider plans to extend its reach nationwide," said Jigsaw chief executive Dr Joseph Duffy.

“With 13 services across the country, developing an extensive schools programme as well as an online resource allows us to expand this reach even further.

He said the organisation’s model of early intervention was about equipping young people and those around them with the knowledge and skills to protect and support their mental health.

“Trusted online sources such as jigsawonline.ie have a significant role to play in this,” he said.

A survey published earlier this year by the National Association of Principals and Deputies found that only a tiny proportion of students (4 per cent) feel the Leaving Cert is fair and an accurate assessment of what they have learned.

The vast majority of students believe the exam is stressful and does not prepare them adequately for third level or for the world of work.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent