Rise of 27% in calls to youth mental health centre

Anxiety the main problem, followed by low mood, family problems and anger issues


The number of young people contacting the national centre for youth mental health, Headstrong, grew by 27 per cent last year.

Anxiety figured as the main issue of concern among the 3,200 young people seeking help, followed by low mood, family problems and anger. Sixty per cent of those contacting the charity were girls.

Further analysis of the prevalence of anxiety among young people showed 41 per cent of young people presenting with the issue were experiencing relationship problems with their family or peers, while another third were experiencing difficulties at school or work.

Headstrong says research shows its Jigsaw service is helping reduce the psychological distress of young people. More than 76 per cent of 17- to 25-year-olds who used one of the 10 Jigsaw centres across the State reported a reduction in distress, according to the data.


Traditionally, a gap existed in services between, on the one hand, child and adolescent services, which stop at 16 years, and on the other, adult mental health services, which start at age 18, according to Headstrong chief executive Dr Tony Bates. “That gap is now closing with many services including Jigsaw. And as our research shows, Jigsaw works for young people.”

Young people were referred to Jigsaw from a number of sources including parents (38 per cent), self (23 per cent) and GPs (10 per cent).

Headstrong says the nature of the difficulties young people experience varies according to age and gender. Males were more likely to present to Jigsaw with anger issues and substance use, while females were more likely to present to Jigsaw with anxiety, low mood, self-harm and low self-esteem, the research found.