Involving and helping young people successfully integrate into the labour market is particularly important for their personal and professional development and for society at large.
The diversity we encounter in terms of socio-economic class, illness and disability, especially mental health problems in a time that allows for free choice and expressionshould widen the range of possibilities for a young person. Instead, these young people often feel rejected and isolated because of their differences.What are the needs of these young people, and to what extent do they intend to achieve successful realization and find their place in a competitive and dynamic world?Unfortunately, across Europe and especially in more conservative countries like Bulgaria, this is still a difficult process and daily efforts to promote acceptance of the differencesare extremely necessary.
We at the Youth House “Hidden Likes” and the L.I.K.E Project have focused our attention and efforts on one specific group.This is the group of young people with mental problems who have every right and opportunity to live a fulfilling life despite their difficulties. Our goal is to support them, changing the attitudes of society.
What are we doing about it?
- We organize therapy groups that aim to help users understand the problems and difficulties they face both personally and in finding a job. Understanding your problem’s nature is the first step to initiating change. We discuss what is good for them, and what the goals they set for themselves are and help them set new ones.With the therapeutic groups, we achieve the main goal – that young people with mental problems have the confidence and self-esteem that they are full-fledged citizens with rights and opportunities for equal work and social realization.
- We organize campaigns in the community to raise awareness about mental health issues, to understand people with such illnesses and disorders and ways to communicate with them and accept them.We use all information channels – television, radio, printed materials, and social networks – for anti-stigma messages that promote the tolerant acceptance of young people with mental problems and the avoidance of discriminatory treatment towards them.
- Part of our work is also aimed at employers in that they are informed about how to work with people with mental illnesses and problems.What is mental illness? What is the benefit to the employer of employing young people with mental health problems and disabilities?What are the characteristics, needs and difficulties of people with such problems and how they can best be integrated intothe workplace?
- We conduct seminars for experts from organizations and institutions to find common approaches to changing policies and initiativesthat facilitate the realization of youth with problems.
- We organize Open Days, podcasts and Q&A sessions to discuss public concerns about interacting with, working with or meeting young people with mental health disorders.
One of the indicators of a healthy and fulfilling society is how stronger, healthy, and successful individuals will treat weaker and harmedpeople in some aspect of their lives. What conditions will they create to live and function in our society, having equal rights and the opportunity for a meaningful and satisfying life…
Diana Yankehayova, Project L.I.K.E. intern