ELECTLifelong Learning Programme / Education and Culture DG
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ELECT project imageNeed for the innovative actions in the field of mental health and studies

Traditional paradigm in mental health policy has been changing during last 20-30 years in most western welfare societies and shifting towards more community-based and user-centered structure of mental health services and psychosocial rehabilitation. The old medical models have been challenged by several more social, holistic and empowering approaches. The concept of
a Clubhouse as a psychosocial rehabilitation is aiming the full participation to adult education and employment of people with mental ill-health.

At the same time the role of patients with mental illnesses is also shifting slowly from sickness-focused towards a personal strengths based role expectations. According to the message of a famous slogan today’s attention shall “focus on abilities, not disabilities”! Also persons with mental illness have more clearly than before expressed their wishes to get more and better education and professional training, as well as, their expectations and will for employment in open labour market.

According to a report by Bob Grove, Jenny Secker and Patience Seebohm (editors) “New thinking about Mental Health and Employment“ (Radcliffe Publishing, Oxford 2005) the needs for professional training and support for employment are in UK urgent: Most people who suffer from periods of mental ill health would like to work and yet less than 20 % are in employment. For those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia the unemployment rate is nearer to 95 %. People with mental health problems are the least employed of any group of disabled persons. As to aspirations to education nearly 70 % preferred education and training, only 18 % were in education. The gaps between wanted and received help and support are nearly the same. 51 % of respondents answered that lack of skills and qualifications, 54 % said that lack of work experience, and 53 % told that lack of appropriate support are the significant barriers for their employment. (ibid. pp. 12-14) The publication is full of information about rationale and background for this project, because these kinds of findings are available in other European countries, too.

Mental disorders are common to all countries and cause lots of human suffering and disabilities. People with these illnesses are subjected to social isolation, poor quality of life and increased mortality. People with mental illness often face stigma, discrimination, and violation of their human rights, also in education and training. Mental illnesses, social exclusion and poverty interact in a negative circle. The ELECT project is trying to turn this negative circle into
a positive one. By developing supported education and assisted learning methods, individual pre-training and “learning to learn support” the ELECT project improves the quality of the lives of people with mental illness and their access to adult education and training. Specially designed support methods are needed for education of people with mental illness, because existing support methods are designed mostly for other groups of disabled persons.
Stakes - National Research and development Centre for Welfare and Health Inclusive Employment Initiatives -group