On Monday, May 16th, Rethink Ireland and the Z Zurich Foundation launched the Headstart Fund – a once-in-a-generation fund designed to tackle one of Ireland’s most pressing social issues as the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic – youth mental health.
The Headstart Fund will support organisations working with young people aged 15-24 in the Republic of Ireland and will specifically welcome innovative solutions that focus on the groups that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, such as young people, women, and those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage. To date, Rethink Ireland has reached over 95,000 people through funding 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 launch of this fund has been made possible by a pledge of €1.5 million from the Z Zurich Foundation, which is the largest single philanthropic contribution Rethink Ireland has ever received in the area of mental health.
Rethink Ireland and the Z Zurich Foundation want to make the Headstart Fund even bigger. They’re calling on donors to bolster the fund through their ‘Greatest Gift’ campaign.
This campaign aims to create one of the largest philanthropic funds in Ireland dedicated to improving youth mental health in Ireland and with the support of more donors, its impact can mean a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve youth mental health in Ireland.
The current crisis of youth mental health and wellbeing has been well reported across the world. Prior to COVID-19, depression was widely documented in young adults in Ireland. From the Growing Up in Ireland (2019) data, over one in five young men, and one in three of young women, had elevated scores on a measure of depressive symptoms. Reported statistics for depression were also gendered, with 32% female and 23% of males reporting symptoms.
According to My World data, less than half of young adults reported their mental well-being as normal, while other levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms were reported as mild (14%), moderate (21%), severe (10%) and very severe (13%) (Dooley et al, 2019).
The Headstart Fund from Rethink Ireland and the Z Zurich Foundation is now accepting donations and potential donors can visit https://rethinkireland.ie/our-impact/headstart-fund-fundraising-campaign/ or email the team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.