Youth Mental Health Fund

WHAT IS THE YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH FUND?

The Youth Mental Health Fund has been created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) in partnership with the Department of Rural and Community Development. The Department of Rural and Community Development provides match funding for all philanthropic funds raised by Social Innovation Fund Ireland, via the Dormant Accounts Fund.

Through the Youth Mental Health Fund, we aim to provide meaningful, lasting support to innovative mental health programmes and initiatives that reach out to young people before and during the societal, academic, physical, and emotional pressures of early adolescence and early adulthood.

 

Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

THE YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH FUND OBJECTIVE

Mental health is increasingly being recognised as an important health issue in Ireland. It is estimated poor mental health will affect one in four people over the course of their lives, with the onset often starting in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. The development of poor mental health at adolescence and early adulthood can have devastating impacts that may last over the course of a person’s lifetime. By promoting mental, emotional and social wellbeing, we can enable young people to fulfil their potential and cope with the challenges faced during this critical development period.

The objective of the Youth Mental Health Fund is to provide meaningful, lasting support to innovative mental health programmes and initiatives that reach out to young people before and during the societal, academic, physical, and emotional pressures of early adolescence, adolescence and early adulthood. The fund is open to all innovative projects offering either preventive supports or interventions for young people and their mental health.

 

Awardees of the Youth Mental Health Fund

The Breakthrough Programme

The Breakthrough Programme is a counselling and support programme for at-risk young adult males in West Dublin. The programme combines individual psychotherapy with mixed martial arts coaching. Its uniqueness lies in the way that it addresses people’s mental and physical health together, each on a one-to-one basis. Upon completion of the programme, participants are invited to stay on as mentors to subsequent programme participants, creating a network of support in and around the gym setting. This network is critical to many young men in areas of disadvantage who experience a lack of positive male role models.

EASE

EASE uses music to introduce and address issues of anxiety in a way that is meaningful and engaging for young people through in-school workshops in secondary schools, based in the Midwest of Ireland. Each workshop offers a multimedia presentation that combines live music with visuals that explore what anxiety is, the various ways it can manifest, and how it can be managed. The element of music engages young people in a way that is relevant to them, and the non-verbal elements of music can be used to convey some of the physical and emotional elements of anxiety in a way that words alone cannot.

The Empathy Project

The Empathy Project works to equip young people to use their stories to build empathy. The core methodology of the programme is the ‘story exchange’, a process which builds empathy by giving participants the experience of walking in another person’s shoes and seeing the world through their eyes. It also gives students perspective and empathy not only for their peers, but also for themselves. The programme has been piloted in Limerick and in the midwest of Ireland, but is in the process of scaling to a wider audience.

ISPCC Digital Platform Project

Childline is a 24 hour listening service for children and young people across the country, run by the Irish Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC). The goal of the ISPCC Digital Platform Project is to build on and improve Childline’s Digital Platform and online chat service, enabling volunteers to provide quality listening service to the children and young people who contact them, unhindered by technical difficulties. The improved platform will be better equipped to support and protect both volunteers and service-users to make the most out of the moment when a child has reached out for help.

Like Minded

Like Minded is an adaption of Gaisce President’s Award - a self-directed, non-competitive personal development programme for young people - which has been specifically designed for the LGBTI+ community. Over the course of 2 years, a safe environment will be provided for 32 LGBTI+ young people to explore identity, issues and experiences of social inclusion, break down barriers through engagement, raise awareness of issues through social campaigns, be physically active and, in the end, achieve a Gaisce award.

Moyross Education Support Programme

The Moyross Education Support Programme addresses the prevalence of traumatic experiences held by children growing up in a disadvantaged area of Limerick, and the impact of such experiences on their emotional and academic development. The Moyross Education Support Programme provides a range of emotional supports that complement the educational work in the school and contributes to the social, educational and emotional development of the pupils and their families. The programme is developed in conjunction with research and oversight from academics from the University of Limerick.

The SOAR Foundation

The SOAR Foundation runs a range of workshops in secondary schools, focusing on normalising the experiences of adversity and hardship throughout adolescence. With different workshop programmes aimed at young boys and girls of different ages, the workshops aim to empower participants to identify the struggles they face in their lives, and work to overcome them. By increasing levels of awareness, resilience, empathy, connection, purpose and confidence amongst teenagers, the project aims to create healthy adult identities as they move forward.

Sound Schools Toolkit

Sound Schools Toolkit is a project developed to promote discussion and awareness of mental health in schools across the country. Through engaging, age-relevant content and channels, it aims to educate young people on the power they have to change their mind-sets, cultivate resilience and build mental fitness. The project aims to create a shift in culture, empowering young people to speak openly about their mental health – and understand how to take care of their own minds. The project will work with teachers and students to develop and tailor the overall toolkit to ensure it relates to children and teenagers’ experience.

Roots of Empathy

Roots of Empathy aims to promote empathy and prevent the development of aggressive and abusive behaviour by educating and engaging with young children attending DEIS schools. As part of the programme, a parent and baby from the local area are invited to visit a group of children regularly over the course of a year. A trained instructor coaches students to observe the baby's development and to label the baby's feelings. Through using the baby as a ‘teacher’, the older children are helped to identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others.