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Youth mental health service offers advice on isolation


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Youth mental health service offers advice on isolation Youth mental health service offers advice on isolation

This Christmas, Jigsaw, the youth mental health charity with a base in Galway City, wants to shine a light on the impact loneliness can have on the mental health of children and young adults.

The charity said that loneliness – labelled a “global public health concern” by the World Health Organisation – poses a significant threat to the mental health and wellbeing of millions.

And in response to that, Jigsaw is also launching an urgent appeal asking the public to support its essential work.

The charity provides mental health advice and support both online and in services around the country to thousands of young people every year.

“To date, Jigsaw have supported over 65,000 children and young adults in Ireland. And we’re making a real lasting impact. Those reaching out for our support leave our services feeling less anxious and more resilient,” said Mike Mansfield, Communications Director at Jigsaw.

“But still, despite our best efforts, many children and young adults feel desperately alone right now. And that’s why we’re asking for the public to support our urgent appeal and be the reason no child feels alone this Christmas.”

The festive season, often seen as a time of joy and togetherness, for many young people isn’t a break from the feelings of isolation and anxiety that loneliness often brings.

It can be a hard time if you have recently lost someone, broken up with someone, are not able to be with who you want to be with, or have a difficult family situation. It can also be tough for those who don’t celebrate Christmas.

“When there is such a focus on happiness, joy and family, there can be a pressure to feel the same and it can bring into focus what you don’t have,” said Angie McLaughlin, Regional Clinical Manager at Jigsaw.

“At Jigsaw, we often hear young people talk about how this time of year makes them feel. How it makes some young people feel things like sadness, anger and anxiety.”

As part of the appeal, Jigsaw has put together some tips and advice from their team of clinicians and mental health experts to help young people navigate loneliness during the festive season:

Acknowledge how you feel: We often don’t want to feel certain feelings, but it’s helpful to acknowledge them and know that it’s ok to feel them. Feelings can come and go and don’t always make sense to us. Feeling guilty for experiencing anger, sadness or loneliness can often mean that we don’t express those emotions, which in turn can make us feel even worse. Your feelings are your own, and nobody gets to tell you which ones you should and shouldn’t feel.

Talk about it: Feeling lonely can sometimes feel embarrassing, but it’s important to remember it’s not! Everyone feels lonely sometimes. It might be helpful to chat with people about times they also felt like they were alone.

Create new memories: This time of year can bring up a lot of memories of times past. There might be sadness around good memories that are gone, or remembering bad things that happened this time of year. Acknowledge this but try creating new memories by trying new things when you can.

Use social media wisely: It can be a great way to reach out, especially to someone you won’t see over Christmas. But be careful how you use it. If it’s making you feel more alone, then stop. Remember it doesn’t always reflect real life, and because someone seems to have a perfect life it doesn’t mean that they actually do.

Volunteer: It can feel good to help someone else. There’s lots of worthy causes you can volunteer for this time of year. This can also be a great way to meet new people and try something new.

Get active: With the cold weather, it can be easy to make excuses to stay indoors. Instead, try and get out. It could be walking the dog, a quick session at the gym, or meeting a friend for a stroll with a coffee.

Write it down: If you find it difficult to say how you’re feeling out loud, it can be helpful to write things down. This can be a way to process your feelings, and it can be helpful to reflect on and refer to later.

Don’t compare: The reality is, it is often unhelpful to compare ourselves to other people. Everyone’s circumstances are different. It can be better to think about the things that you do like about yourself or your life.

To donate to Jigsaw’s Christmas appeal and help make sure that no child feels alone this Christmas, visit

Pictured: Mike Mansfield: advice on countering loneliness this Christmas.

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