Our history

Since Dr Tony Bates founded our charity in 2006, we have grown to support the mental health and wellbeing of over 25,407 young people across Ireland. 

As an editor of ‘A Vision for Change’, the ten year Government policy on mental health service reform, and a mental health professional with over 30 years of experience, Tony was inspired to work with the young people who became our first Youth Advisory Panel, to set up Headstrong – The National Centre for Youth Mental Health. We were created to change how Ireland thinks about and supports young people's mental health through our three programmes of Research, Engagement and Jigsaw Services.

Tony said of our 10th anniversary, “I think as we reach our 10th anniversary and reflect on what worked well, it’s obvious that our smartest move was to consult young people about what they wanted and needed. Young people keep everyone who works here honest and on track”.

In 2016, we changed our name to Jigsaw – The National Centre for Youth Mental Health

We remain committed to leading the change in youth mental health through influencing change, strengthening communities and delivering services through our evidence-informed early intervention and prevention approach.

Jigsaw Milestones


  • With the support of the One Foundation, we are founded as Headstrong: The National Centre for Youth Mental Health by Dr Tony Bates and our first Youth Advisory Panel. The Youth Advisory Panel are an essential part of what we do. Aged from 16-25, they are involved in all areas of our work. From recruitment of staff through to public campaigns, and much more, they make sure young people’s views and opinions on youth mental health are heard.


  • We visit and learn from organisations recognised as world-leaders in providing support for the mental health of young people. By bringing together the latest research and information on how best to support young people's mental health, we develop the Jigsaw model of Youth Mental Health service development for young people in Ireland aged 12-25. One of the most vital things we learn comes from a visit to Ghana to see the work of Basic Needs - the importance of communities in changing attitudes and services for mental health. 
  • We receive a grant of €1million from the Dormant Accounts Fund to support us in furthering our work for the next two years.
  • We start to talk with and listen to communities across Galway, Ballymun, Meath, Kerry and Roscommon to understand how best to launch the Jigsaw Service. 


Jigsaw Galway YAP at the launch of Jigsaw Galway in 2008

  • We start work on the 'My World Survey', in collaboration with University College Dublin (UCD), with a pilot study talking to 1,077 young people. The survey is designed as a way to listen to our young people, and deepen our knowledge about their mental health so we know how best to support them.
  • We launch our first Jigsaw Services in Galway and Ballymun. Jigsaw is a safe place, working with local communities to create somewhere that young people aged 12-25 can get support for their mental health and wellbeing.
  • With the opening of our first Jigsaw Services, we start using the Jigsaw Data System - helping us to understand and show how Jigsaw works for young people. 



Launch of Somewhere to Turn to Someone to Talk to

  • We publish and launch 'Somewhere to Turn to Someone to Talk to', our foundation document that outlines the Jigsaw programme as a new way of working with young people and includes the initial findings from the My World pilot study.
  • We run our first community workshops with the aim of increasing understanding and knowledge around youth mental health and how best to support our young people. 
  • We create the Jigsaw Learning Network for sharing experience and knowledge from our Jigsaw Services that helps us be responsive to the needs of young people. 


  • After the success of the 'My World Survey' pilot study, we begin collecting data for the full study aiming to speak to 10,000 young people.
  • We are chosen by O2 as their charity partner for the next three years and develop the Think Big initiative to inspire young people around Ireland to promote positive mental health in their local community.
  • We receive grant funding from Atlantic Philanthropies, after they're impressed by our approach of prevention and early intervention for young people's mental health.  


  • We open three more Jigsaw Services in Meath, Kerry, and Roscommon.Former President, Mary McAleese, visiting Jigsaw Galway in 2011
  • We receive Innovation Funding from the Government Department of Health and Children to support us in developing Jigsaw Services in six more communities.
  • President Mary McAleese visits Jigsaw Galway. She describes it as a service that is, “helping young people to get the best out of themselves… to lose that sense of self-doubt… to introduce them to their strong selves, their best selves”.
  • We launch the Get On Board for Youth Mental Health campaign along with Inspire Ireland, Foroige and BelongTo. The aim is to support young people in getting their voices heard by election candidates on the issues that concern them.


  • We launch the 'My World Survey' report, described by the media as “fascinating”, and providing “…for the first time, an understanding of where young people are ‘at’ psychologically. We now have an evidence base to plan for the nation’s future mental health needs.”
  • We open new Jigsaw Services in Donegal and Offaly.
  • We introduce our idea of One Good Adult®, developed from our learnings from the 'My World Survey'.

  • We hold our first Youth Learning Network event, giving our Youth Advisory Panel members from across our Jigsaw Services and at a national level the opportunity to share knowledge and ideas 
  • We are a founding member of the International Association of Youth Mental Health, created to encourage the sharing of best practice in how to support young people and respond to their needs around mental health.


  • We open new Jigsaw Services in Tallaght, Clondlakin, Dublin 15, and North Fingal.
  • Former Minister Kathleen Lynch visiting Jigsaw Kerry in 2013Minister Kathleen Lynch visits Jigsaw Kerry after an invite from their Youth Advisory Panel. Youth Advisory Panel member Sadhbh Baker describes their delight, “The Youth Advisory Panel was delighted to welcome Minister Lynch to Jigsaw Kerry. We feel her presence recognises the value of the Youth Advisory Panel’s contribution to promoting positive youth mental health in our community”.
  • We attend the second International Youth Mental Health Conference, sharing what we’ve learnt from working with our young people with other mental health organisations from all over the world. 
  • With the support of the One Foundation, we launch a training programme for teachers to increase understanding and knowledge around youth mental health. Working in partnership with the Association of Teachers/Education Centres in Ireland (ATECI), SPHE, NEPS and HSE Health Promotion, post-primary school teachers are trained to deliver a series of workshops 
  • Funding from the One Foundation, a key funder since we were founded, comes to an end. Tony Bates says, "We would not be where we are today in terms of development  if it wasn't for the financial and strategic support of the One Foundation."


  • We now have a total of 10 Jigsaw Services across Ireland supporting the mental of young people. We still want more though, we want every community to have a Jigsaw.
  • With the end of our Innovation Funding from the Department of Health and Children, we are given mainstream funding by the Health Service Executive.
  • We receive our final grants from Atlantic Philanthropies.
  • As part of our commitment to being open and honest about our work, we sign up to the Governance Code for Community Charity and Voluntary Organisations.
  • We launch our research bursary scheme to support research into youth mental health and build stronger relationships between academic institutions across Ireland. 
  • Jigsaw Services in Offally and Donegal launch Read Your Mind, a project ran in partnership with their local library services and The National Office for Suicide Prevention. Read Your Mind ensures that participating libraries have access to a selection of books providing support and information on topics such as anxiety, depressions, and loneliness. 


  • We partner with BelongTo for the Yes Vote For Marriage Equality campaign. A member of our Youth Advisory Panel explains why the campaign was important to them, "It's super important for us to be involved in the Yes campaign as we deal with youth mental health, LGBT youth are among the most likely to face severe mental health issues, and being one of them I speak from experience”.
  • We hold our first ever fundraising Abseil Challenge at Croke Park to raise over €20,000 for youth mental health.
  • Our Jigsaw Service is referenced in the Health Service Executive's National Service Plan.
  • Jigsaw Offaly, in association with Offaly Youth Theatre, launch Write Your Mind, asking young people to help create and take part in a number of theatre performances covering topics around youth mental health. Performances take place as part of the First Fortnight Festival and at the Birr Theatre and Arts Centre in County Offaly.

Since being founded in 2008, we have:

  • supported the mental health of more than 15,000 of our young people across Ireland through our ten Jigsaw Services
  • through workshops and training developed the skills of more than 50,000 people across Ireland to help our communities understand youth mental health and how to support our young people.


  • With increased support from the Health Service Executive, work begins on developing three new Jigsaw Services for young people in Dublin City, Limerick and Cork.
  • We all become Jigsaw, we change our name from Headstrong to Jigsaw: The National Centre for Youth Mental Health.
  • Frank DeAngelis, former principal of Columbine High School, joined Jigsaw founder Dr. Tony Bates for a special talk for parents and anyone concerned about young people.
  • 2016 saw one particularly extraordinary fundraising initiative deliver significant impact. Musician James Vincent McMorrow recorded the song Higher Love by Steve Winwood and released it, agreeing to donate all sales and royalties to support the work of Jigsaw. The single, in reaching the top of the charts and featuring on TV commercials and in movies, delivered €122,00 for Jigsaw in 2016 alone. 


  • 75 people took part in our annual Croke Park abseil, raising over €35,000.    ​
  • We launched our new annual cycling event, the BoxyMo Giro D’Jigsaw. 44 people covered 470km around Ireland over three days to raise over €50,000.
  • Extreme adventurer Gavan Hennigan became our newest National Ambassador. Gavan is the fastest Irish man to row solo across the Atlantic – a 5,000 km crossing he undertook in just 49 days. Throughout 2017 Gavan promoted and supported our fundraising, taking part in the BoxyMo Giro D’Jigsaw and talking about our work at a number of events.
  • Lidl selected Jigsaw as their new charity partner for the next three years, pledging to fundraise €1million for Jigsaw and raise awareness of youth mental health nationwide.
  • Maria Kelly walked 160km home from Dublin Airport to Clara in County Offaly to raise over €4,000 and awareness about our Jigsaw Offaly service.
  • Intel Ireland selected Jigsaw as a charity partner for 2017. Staff volunteered over 2000 hours of their time and raised over €28,000.
  • With the support of Independent News and Media (INM), we ran a print campaign revolving around our One Good Adult message. The #TalkIWillListen campaign ran across all INM titles in June, with an equivalent ad revenue of €621,860.