Irish Businesses supporting entry to work for people with long term mental health issues

BITCI News - Feb 26, 2014

25th February – In light of National Employment Week, Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) announces Ireland’s first business-mental health services partnership, Slí Beatha.

Genio_Logo_2COL_RGB The innovative project involves Irish businesses working alongside mental health and employment support teams to provide tailored work experience opportunities to individuals who have been living with long term mental health issues as a means to gaining entry into the workplace.

The initiative takes a progressive approach, in line with New Directions, the HSE’s 2012 plan for new services to adults with disabilities which puts a premium on making sure that people have the widest possible choices about how they live their lives. The project will create socially inclusive work experience roles where emphasis is placed on the potential for growth in the individual. The roles will last at least 4 weeks and are tailored to each individual’s capacity – allowing for periods of incapacity and adjustment. Participants will be given training prior to placement and the company staff will also be trained on mentoring skills and mental health.  People will receive on-going employment training around self-presentation, coping techniques and interview skills.

Commenting on the project that currently supports five participants in gaining entry into work, Tina Roche said,

“Work can play an extremely positive role in supporting individuals who have, or who are recovering from, mental health issues. Individuals with mental health issues have a valuable role to play in society and one of the ways that value is affirmed to themselves and others is through the workplace.  It is important to remember that the vast majority of people with mental health problems are capable of working, for others, the right supports just need to be in place. We are delighted that businesses are recognising the unique role they can play in supporting these individuals by being in a position to provide work experience as a means to recovery, giving meaning and purpose in life and hopefully in gaining entry into employment.”

A Slí Beatha participant commenting on their experiences of the project said:

“I’m really enjoying meeting more people which is helping improve my confidence. It levels me and keeps me grounded. I’m hoping to hear and get a job out of it… because I’ve been looking for years.  I have an apartment and I’m settled down in that so all I need is a job. – doing something that I like. It’ll be good for my CV and also for a reference and it’ll get me out of the house as well. It gets me up out of bed early and I am meeting new people.” 

Slí Beatha is a collaborative project between BITCI’s *Ready for Work programme, **National Learning Network’s Reach and Linking In projects .The idea for the project arose when coordinators for the Reach project approached BITCI to help find employers willing to provide support through the programme. Businesses that participate in and support the scheme include some of Ireland’s leading companies, including: Marks & Spencer, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Debenhams Ireland, BaxterStorey Ireland and Compass Group Ireland. The project is funded by **Genio.  Due to the success of the scheme for both participants and businesses BITCI is announcing the programme in the hope that more companies will come on board.

If you have any questions on this initiative and/or want to get involved please contact:

Anna Greenhalgh   T: + 353 1 8743814 e: