Why promoting mental health service in school is so important

Learning about mental health at an early age can help reduce stigma.

Written by Dympna O'Brien


As a college student, I have been through the stressful times that present themselves along the way through adolescence. Jigsaw Meath is a free support service for young people aged 12-25.

Mental health has such a stigma attached to it. In the eyes of a young person mental health can look like straight-jackets and padded rooms or like the role Natalie Portman played in The Black Swan and Stacy Slater in Eastenders.

I first started learning about mental health from a young age, with my mother who is a psychiatric nurse. But even then, the images I saw on TV were what is what I saw mental health to be. I was in my 5th year of secondary school when I first got involved in Jigsaw Meath and my eyes have been opened ever since then. I have learned that everyone has mental health the same way everyone has physical health and that it should not just be ignored. I have learned that talking about problems, no matter how small always helps.

By promoting Jigsaw in schools, young people, the future generations who will run our country, can be exposed to mental health in a positive light and taught that it’s ok to feel like crap and to have down days; that it helps to talk to people whether it be within Jigsaw or within his/her community and circle. Students will learn just the same as I have about mental health and that fact that it’s not big and scary as I once saw it. They will be provided with information that they may need someday to find help for themselves or a friend.

Simply knowing about Jigsaw and mental health has helped and taught me valuable life lessons about myself and about others. Jigsaw has given me so much. Just being able to talk to someone who I know will listen and hear me out in times of stress, like in my leaving cert and college exams and who will help me figure out solutions. It has allowed me to talk about youth mental health and Jigsaw freely and comfortably.

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