Mental health charity, Jigsaw, has revealed that there was an increase in demand for its services by 50% in August 2020 compared to August 2019. It also noted an increase in demand of 400% for virtual mental health services over the last 6 months. Additionally, there has been a surge in the demand for school supports and a large increase in the volume of calls into Jigsaw’s 1800 number.

The anxiety surrounding the pandemic has been apparent from the start, however as cases, particularly in Dublin, continue to rise daily, many people are being forced to self-isolate which can reportedly cause increased feelings of loneliness and helplessness.

The charity, whose work focuses predominantly on helping young people with their mental health, has also seen a slight shift in the types of issues that young people are presenting with since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic; while anxiety remains the top issue among young people, they are seeing an increase in sleep-related issues, family conflict and a marked spike in parents and teachers seeking support.

UCDSU Welfare Officer Ruairí Power has commented on the matter, stating:
“The findings of this report by Jigsaw show a clear increase in demand for mental health supports arising out of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The last few months have been incredibly challenging for students, and it is no surprise that it has created increased anxiety for young people. We have partnered with Jigsaw as one of our charities this year in light of the expected increased demand for this vital service.”

He continued: “We have called for a costed development strategy to be developed for the future of mental health services and initiatives on campus and will continue to advocate for this approach as a matter of urgency. We look forward to seeing the funding allocated by the Higher Education Authority for mental health supports being put to good use by UCD.”

Due to the increase in the demand for mental health services, Jigsaw have launched an urgent campaign to increase their funding by calling on people to support their Revolution campaign by cycling 100km and raising €100 by World Mental Health day which is Saturday the 10th of October this year.

Sarah Connaughton – Reporter