The importance of empowerment in prevention of mental disorders and promotion of health is recognized in many international and national policies. Empowerment should take place simultaneously at the individual and the social level. It is a multidimensional social process through which individuals and groups have a better understanding of their environment and gain better control over their lives. As a result, they are able to change their own social and political environment to improve their life circumstances. Being involved in the society in which they live is vital to material, psychosocial and political empowerment that supports social well-being and equality in health.

Mental disorders often bring individuals and families into poverty. Low social status and social exclusion are far more common in people with mental disorders than in the general population, which increases their marginalization and vulnerability. Due to stigmatization and discrimination, human rights of people with mental disorders are often endangered. Many find it difficult to exercise rights in the area of work, education and decent standard of living, independency and independent living, social protection and cultural life, as well as the right to achieve the highest possible standard of health. People with mental health disabilities are difficult to recruit and / or return to work due to discrimination, which is not necessarily a consequence of reduced work abilities or still present symptoms, but prejudices about mental disorders. Such an influence of the stigma has negative consequences on the health of a person and seriously disturbs the feeling of one's own worth. As the right to work is a fundamental human right, the economic empowerment of people with mental disorders is a social task that encourages all members of the community to respect the health and well-being of individuals and populations, and act in ways that empower individuals and groups to respect their own rights as well as the rights of others to health and welfare.



In this context, work integration addresses a large segment of the process of reducing the discrimination against people with mental disorders and their carers. At an individual level, economic empowerment contributes to a higher level of positive social contacts, and thus to a better standard of life and health.

Work integration of people with disabilities is realized in most European countries through the concept of social entrepreneurship. The very concept of social economy and social entrepreneurship began to develop on the foundations of Italian social cooperatives that resulted from the reform of the health care system, primarily in the field of mental health.

This project, aimed at overcoming the described problem, is based on the model of encouraging entrepreneurial management competences and members of associations of people with mental disorders. In this way, opportunities for employment and work engagement are provided in the scope and environment tailored to the specific needs of this target group.

The expected outcome of the project is a sustainable model for improving mental health and social inclusion of people with mental health disorders through work integration and social entrepreneurship. Risks can be controlled to a certain extent through a system of comprehensive financial, technical and professional support planned with this project.

The Youth Employment Project (YEP), supported by the Government of Switzerland, has been supporting the reform of Public Employment Services (JSZ) since 2008, and supports the development of entrepreneurship.

The main objectives of the project are:

  • Strengthening the social inclusion of people with mental disorders and strengthening their work integration through social enterprises,
  • Improvement of the socio-economic status of users by providing regular income from commercial activities.