Youth Mental Health Pathfinder Project


Youth mental health and suicide prevention is the focus of one of three Pathfinder projects identified in the Irish Civil Service Renewal Plan. Pathfinder projects aim to improve whole of government approaches to cross cutting policy challenges and have the potential to address a problem like youth mental health, where responsibility lies across a number of departments and agencies. The Youth Mental Health Pathfinder Project, which began in 2016 also aimed to improve the capacity of a number of departments and agencies to use innovative and collaborative approaches to solving complex policy issues. The Youth Mental Health Pathfinder Project team involved staff from the Department of Health, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the HSE and CES.

Our Role

The Youth Mental Health Pathfinder Project was one of nine projects selected by government departments and CES to feature in the Goal Programme for Public Service Reform and Innovation. A CES project specialist was part of the Pathfinder Project Team, which used a collaborative, problem solving approach to develop their understanding about the issue and come up with some new proposals. CES gathered data and reviewed evidence about youth mental health in Ireland and examples of approaches from other jurisdictions.

In 2017 CES published a report and a toolkit based on the work of the Pathfinder Project.

  • Fifteen days tells the story of how the team got to the heart of a complex problem, came up with some practical proposals, and engaged senior leadership in the civil service.
  • The Fifteen Days Toolkit which accompanies the report includes a range of tools and techniques which support collaborative problem solving, and will be of interest to any civil servant involved in significant change or innovation work.

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