What is the Youth Advisory Panel?
Jigsaw listens to what young people have to say and strives to involve them in many aspects of our work. The young people on the panel contribute by promoting youth mental health, building awareness of Jigsaw, advising Jigsaw directly, working with other relevant organisations, fundraising and helping Jigsaw challenge the stigma that surrounds mental health. In each of the services across Ireland we have a local Youth Advisory Panel embedded in the community. In the national office we have the Jigsaw YAP which consists of YAP members from other Jigsaw services and other young people involved in our work on a national level.
Each Youth Advisory Panel can have approximately 20 members at any one time and with an age range of 16-25 years. Membership is voluntary. As our YAP are a vital part of Jigsaw we try to work with young people who are passionate about youth mental health with a wide range of life experiences so as to ensure that a diverse range of voices is represented. Each member may serve a term of up to 3 years.
The Role of the Youth Advisory Panel Member
The main role of the YAP member is to work alongside the Jigsaw team in fulfilling our mission by.
• Contribute to Jigsaw publications, website and resources for young people, parents and service providers.
• Represent their own views in the development of new initiatives within Jigsaw.
• Support Jigsaw in working to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
• Attend regular scheduled meetings as facilitated by Jigsaw.
• Participate in in the recruitment of Jigsaw staff.
• Attend relevant meetings in Jigsaw to ensure the voice of young people is heard.
The YAP currently sit with the following structures:
- Board of Directors.
- HR Sub Committee.
- Management Forum.
- Audit and Finance Sub Committee.
- Quality and Safety Sub Committee.
- Research Sub Committee.
- Education and Training Sub Committee.
- Communication & Fundraising Sub Committee.
- Operational Management Groups.
- Jigsaw Advisory Groups.
Why Involve Young People in Jigsaw
“The YAP has acted as our compass for when we are unsure about how we can deliver, design and communicate about the service” - Staff Member.
The primary reasons for us involving young people in the development of services is:
• Young people have insights and perspectives to offer that are different from adults.
• Young people have a right to be consulted with respect to policies/issues affecting them.
• Young people engage more with services when they are consulted.
• It leads to better decision making including decision making that does not directly involve young people.
• Makes the services more credible and real.
• Young people are more likely to approach the service if they knew young people had been involved in designing it.
“if you actually want to fix something around the issue of young people, the best sort of person to go to is actually a young person” YAP member.
“if you want to encourage self-referrals, and that’s what we want to do, we want to change how young people think about and how they access services. They are the most powerful tool. They are the most powerful resource to do that and we need to invest in them” Staff Focus Group.
Involving young people has been most beneficial:
To promoting Jigsaw
To the young people who use Jigsaw.
In developing projects, programmes and initiatives.
Decision-making within Jigsaw.
Made the service more credible, transparent and accountable.
Stops service become intimidating and clinical.
Ensures the service is accessible, youth friendly and responsive to the needs of young people.
Sets it apart from other mental health services.
Breaks down stigma.
“It means that you can’t let yourself off the hook and just do what suits staff or the service! You need to explain decisions and involve young people in decision making… if you can’t justify it to the Youth Advisory Panel, or you just can’t explain it, simply, to the Youth Advisory panel, then you need to ask yourself about your decision-making method and conclusions” Staff Member
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org