Stress is behind more than 50% of work absenteeism. Stress that comes out of the daily traffic jams, backlogs of unanswered calls, and never-ending tasks on the agenda. It’s a different story. One that paralyzes everything. It is about incapacitating stress that leads those suffering from it to the gates of the abyss, from which they do not know how they entered or how to get out. It is the story of Javier Herrera.
Javier was always clear about what he wanted to be: a firefighter. He got it. However, two years after receiving a permanent position, mental illness caused by stress became active and everything turned upside down. It was more than just a hole that caused him to attempt assassination twice. To reverse the free fall in which it was placed, work was part of the result. A recreated walk, yes, and guided by the Mental Health Line of the Incorpora program of the “la Caixa” Foundation.
This is a program that, since 2006, aims to accompany and train disadvantaged groups, recognizing their potential and preparing them to enter the labor market. One area of employment is mental health, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and has reached over 17,000 jobs on the personalized route.
Because, despite prejudice and discrimination, work routines make it easier for people to structure their life project and give them an active role in society, increasing their self-esteem and well-being. That is why when a person cannot go to work, the balance of his mental health is dangerously shaken.
Javier’s story, as he shares, could be “anyone’s story.” In fact, it happens more often than we can imagine. 27% of adults in Europe suffer from mental health problems. In other words, 93 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2020, depression was the second most important cause of disability worldwide, with an estimated economic cost of €240 billion annually.
25% of European citizens will experience mental health problems in their lifetime
The future is not encouraging. 25% of European citizens will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, so the development of specific resources and tools for this group in the workplace is more necessary than ever. In fact, when we talk about mental illness, we are dealing with one of the population groups with the highest unemployment rate, a reality that the “la Caixa” Foundation’s Incorpora program wants to reverse.
Work as a vital pivot
Its aim is to facilitate the employment of these people by providing the necessary support to both the company, the professionals involved and the individual to combat the stigma associated with mental health issues in the workplace. Because employment, as they describe from the program, facilitates social recognition, encourages independent living and promotes well-being and health, and people with mental health problems are no exception.
“Work makes you feel better, integrates you into society. They can save your life in many ways and in subtle ways,” Javier explains. For him and thousands of other beneficiaries of the program, work is one of those “ways”. People with regular jobs who, due to some mental disorder or illness, one day felt that they could not. Today, they get it again thanks to Red Incorpora, and their experience and that of other users has also shaped the documentary podcast “Diarios Incorpora, one step every day”.
This is a series of episodes that look at the importance of employment for people who, like Javier, have suffered from mental health problems or disorders. Testimonies that with courage and all the professional support provided by the Incorpora program, they were able to move forward thanks to the autonomy and confidence that daily work gives. A podcast produced by the Incorpora program of the “la Caixa” Foundation, narrated by Manuel Jabois.
see, understand, act
The “La Caixa” Foundation program also focuses on companies, not only to help them hire people with mental health problems, but also to make them more aware of the psychosocial risks that can occur in work teams. Because understanding what happens and what happens when a company decides to act is the first step and it has a positive impact on both the employee, the company and society.
The benefit is threefold. In doing so, they contribute to the normalization of the employment status of these people, improve their quality of life and help eliminate social prejudice against them, while promoting diversity in the workplace. On the contrary, not knowing the risks and not taking measures against them leads to economic, social and, of course, human consequences.
For this reason, the Incorpora program is not only aimed at people with mental health problems who want to return to work. Incorpora’s mental health technical office has also been created for companies and professionals who, in addition to promoting mental health in companies, need free counseling and support resources for employment to carry out the integration process of these people.
MORE INFORMATION about INCOPORA Mental Health
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