Youth mental health services to benefit from HeadStart fund

Rethink Ireland and Z Zurich Foundation celebrate a commitment of €1.5 million from the HSE to the HeadStart fund, to aid development of youth mental health infrastructure and services across Ireland. 

Pictured at ‘The Future is Social’ mural in Waterford City to promote Social innovation: Deirdre Mortell, CEO at Rethink Ireland; Mary Butler, Minister of State at the Department of Health; Joe Creegan, Head of Corporate Life and Pensions at Zurich; Aisling Duffy, Senior Project Manager, Mental Health Operations, HSE.

The HSE makes a pledge of €1.5 million to Rethink Ireland’s HeadStart fund which will be used to fund the development of youth mental health infrastructure and services across Ireland. 

The contribution of €1.5 million from the HSE is a hugely welcome addition to the unprecedented €1.5 million contribution from the Z Zurich Foundation earlier this year, which creates a €3 million fund - one of the largest philanthropic funds in Ireland dedicated to improving youth mental health and wellbeing.  

The HeadStart fund will support organisations working with young people aged 15-24 in the Republic of Ireland and will focus on innovative solutions to help groups such as young people, women, and those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage  through cash grants and non-financial supports. To date, Rethink Ireland has reached over 95,000 people by supporting social innovations within the health sector. Over 8,600 people accessed their awardees’ mental health services in person or online in 2020 of which 5,169 participants were under the age of 25. The fund is due to open for applications in January 2023.  

Mary Butler TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People , said:  “My Department and the HSE places a huge importance on improving the mental health of our population, and particularly of young people. The collaboration by the HSE with the HeadStart fund is a proactive and socially innovative effort to support the work being done overall in Ireland for the wellbeing of our current and future generations. ” 

The HeadStartf fund is dedicated to tackling the youth mental health crisis in Ireland through targeted early interventions, well-being and resilience programmes, and other mental health support specifically targeted at young people. The fund aims to be the single biggest injection of cash for youth mental health and wellbeing services and organisations in Ireland, and Rethink Ireland continues to call for the support of more donors to come together in a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve youth mental health and wellbeing in Ireland. 

Deirdre Mortell, CEO at Rethink Ireland, said: “We are immensely proud to collaborate with the HSE and Z Zurich Foundation on the HeadStart fund. Rethink Ireland remains committed to working with companies, Government and our valued philanthropic partners to improve the mental health and wellbeing of Ireland’s young people through early intervention and prevention supports.” 

Jim Ryan, Head of Operations and Service Improvement at the HSE, said: “The HSE partners with many different mental health organisations to provide support to people of all ages with different needs. Over the last number of years, we have invested in ‘upstream’ youth mental health services, including Jigsaw and other funded agencies in the community and voluntary sector that are providing enhanced services for children and young people with mild to moderate mental health difficulties. We encourage people to familiarise themselves with the wide range of supports on our website and through our partnership with the HeadStart Fund, we hope to continue improving mental health outcomes for Ireland’s youth alongside the innovative organisations funded by Rethink.” 

Sofyen Khalfaoui, Improving Mental Wellbeing Lead at Z Zurich Foundation, said: “We are thrilled to see the HSE match our contribution to Rethink Ireland’s Headstart fund. At the Z Zurich Foundation, we have made mental wellbeing promotion and prevention one of our top priorities to help young people thrive, live at their full potential and save lives. We know that with this unprecedented funding, the Headstart fund can create genuine impact at scale by supporting mental wellbeing organisations to expand their great work across Ireland.” 

The Headstart fund from Rethink Ireland is still open and accepting donations until the end of Q1 2023. Potential donors can visit for further information and to contact the team.  

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