HSE support HeadStart Fund with a €1.5M investment, creating a €3M Youth Mental Health Fund in Ireland

One of the largest philanthropic funds in Ireland dedicated to improving youth mental health and wellbeing. 

4 people standing in front of a colorful wall mural that reads the future is social, there are daises trees and a rainbow surrounding the text which sits upon a large watering can in a bright blue.
Deirdre Mortell, CEO at Rethink Ireland, Minister Mary Butler, Minister of State at the Department of Health, Joe Creegan, Head of Corporate Life and Pensions Zurich, Aisling Duffy, Senior Project Manager. Community Operations, Mental Health.

Rethink Ireland and Z Zurich Foundation today celebrate a commitment of €1.5 Million from the HSE to the HeadStart Fund, a commitment facilitated by Mary Butler TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People.


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 support. 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 place 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 well-being of our current and future generations. I am pleased to be able to support this partnership by way of funding of €1.5m through the HSE. This follows significant funding given in recent times by Government for various new community-based initiatives to promote positive mental health nationally. ”


The HeadStart 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: “Rethink Ireland’s Manifesto 2030 states “A Bold Generation takes charge.” If we want this to happen, we owe it to young people to make adequate mental health support available to them. So, 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, the Government, and our valued philanthropic partners to improve the mental health and well-being 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 yourmentalhealth.ie 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 well-being 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 https://rethinkireland.ie/our-impact/headstart-fund-fundraising-campaign/ for further information and to contact our team.