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Home > A framework for the training and employment of people with mental health difficulties.

Mental Health Forum. (2007) A framework for the training and employment of people with mental health difficulties. Dublin: Health Service Executive.

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Many barriers exist for people with mental health difficulties in terms of accessing the workplace. These obstacles occur on a number of levels and their cumulative effect is significant. 

Internal barriers can be defined as those issues that relate mainly to the functional limitations associated with particular mental health difficulties. While it is impossible to draw accurate generalisations about the needs of all persons with psychiatric disabilities, certain areas of functional limitations seem to recur. 

Personal barriers can be defined as those issues that relate to the social or environmental context (Auerbach et al, 2005) which can negatively impact upon the individual’s capacity to function effectively in employment and other settings. Examples of this type of barrier include residential instability, relationship difficulties and social isolation. 

Work-based barriers can be defined as those issues that relate specifically to the person’s relationship with a specific workplace setting and may include inadequate workplace supports including accommodations, an environment that is not ‘disclosure friendly’ and over demanding job roles etc. 

Public/Societal barriers relate to those wider attitudinal and policy level issues that serve to exclude individuals with mental health difficulties. These obstacles include stigma and stereotyping leading to discriminative practices, the ‘benefits trap’, restrictive funding arrangements or entry criteria attached to particular social and economic inclusion initiatives. 

It is therefore a prime function of providers to devise individually tailored strategies, environmental modifications and programmes which address the aforementioned barriers and through training and practice, enable the client overcome such barriers. The individual programme devised for the person (for in this business a ‘one size fits all’ policy does not work) with the proper assistance will mean that in many cases a chance of gaining employment and maintaining employment is a realistic goal. Systemically, it is therefore essential that the framework for training and work services maximises the opportunity for success and ensures that the individual needs of the person are acknowledged and supported at every stage in the rehabilitative and training process. The framework has in addition to be sufficiently flexible to acknowledge the episodic nature of mental health difficulties and the requirement for legitimate trial and error and vocational exploration.

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