Stages to employment. Volunteering activities as a necessary part of the process
The majority of young people with mental health issues are facing numerous difficulties in their social life. Forming new relationships, joining various groups and finding a job is challenging for them. Their mental health status and age classifies them as socially excluded.
In order to be able to make social contacts or to find or keep a job, they have to hide their mental health problems. That is partly due to the social stigma of mental illnesscaused by lack of awareness and the self-stigma that these young people and their families develop. NEETs suffering from mental health are often a subject of discrimination because of their age and health condition and unemployment affects many aspects of their lives:
- They experience a lack of career opportunities which leads to low self-esteem
- They want to learn and develop work habits but they also encountermany obstacles in this process because of the social stigma
- They are financially dependant: they are unable to separate from their families which leads to developmental delays
- Lack of confidence: these young people experience many failures which make them believe that they won’t be able to succeed in a job interview or with the job itself;
The primary study conducted by Project L.I.K.E. – Life Investment is the Key to Employment analyzed the data in 5 modalities: interests, trust, worries, expectations and benefits among young people with mental health issues who don’t study or work. The study defines the reasons for the isolation and self-isolation of NEETs with mental health issues. Employers consider that the demotivation, one of the aspects of passivity of the target group, is rooted in the social environment. The complex nature of the subjective feeling, resulting from recurring failuresis highlighted and the social environment does not help young people break that vicious cycle. The lack of motivation is not primary associated with poverty but rather with the psychic attitudes of the sample. Failures cause the highly sensitive and vulnerable individuals to isolate themselves. It is difficult for the employers to recognize the best traits of the employees especially when they are primary stigmatized because of their mental illness, lack of successful career, poor education etc. Friends and relatives included in that research describe the reluctances of young people who do not study or work as recurrent, difficult, definite, extreme and overwhelming. The source of these reluctances according to them are insecurities, worries, demotivation, fear of disappointment and lack of social competences. It can be said that their significant reluctances are perceived as unbearable for youngers and their families. The lack of desire for self-realization is discussed with employers, relatives and parents of the target group. Lots of factors are pointed out which form those psychic attitudes, including character traits and hereditary behavioral models.
Excessive care is the second reason highlighted during the focus groups and in-depth interviews with relatives. In general, overprotective family is a factor for passivity and excessively caring parents lead to apathy and demotivation for self-realization and later on – difficulties with social inclusion. Majority of those young people live with their parents, which influences their socialization. They live in a bubble, capsulated in family and peer environment (who are probably in the same situation as them). Their dreams and interests are limited. Their sources of information are restricted to their living environment and therefore their interests and future related attitudes are repressed. The data analysis shows that in case of social maladaptation observed in that group, the main reason is lack of motivation for active life, integration in social environment and personal growth. According to NEETs with mental health issues acceptance (and realizing that there might be other who are like them), good relationships with others could be the strongestmotive for dealing with isolation and lack of activity. Relationships with young people, sport, separation from parents are the main decisions, based on observation of each of the cases.
The multidimensional system, developed for the unemployed young people with mental health issues, implemented in “Hidden Likes” Youth Houses aims to develop a wide range of social and practical skills that will integrate them into the society and later on to facilitate them finding a job. Volunteers and university students who participate in the House activities are helpful in the process of socialization. Their role is very important for integrating the target group. Meetings, discussion and joint activities with healthy people (volunteers) help recovery and integration of unemployed young people.
NEETs, the target group of the project, are encouraged to start internship and work, but also participating as volunteers for various causes, companies and institutions. Volunteering activities are beneficial for their social inclusion and give the opportunity to develop new skills in one not so pretending work environment. Volunteering activities for students that are not employer or do not study give a chance to develop qualities such as patience, tolerance towards frustration, communication skills and teamwork.