Stress is the cause of more than 50% of work absences. Stress that goes beyond the traffic jams of each day, the positions piled up with missed calls and the tasks that never get crossed off the agenda. That’s another story. One that paralyzes everything. We are talking about debilitating stress that leads its sufferers to the gates of an abyss from which they do not know how they entered or how to get out. This is the story of Javier Herrera.
Javier always knew what he wanted to be: a firefighter. He got it. Two years after receiving a permanent position, however, a mental illness from stress activated and everything turned around. It was more than just a hole that caused him to make two attempts on his life. To reverse the free fall in which it was installed, work was part of the result. A rediscovered excursion, yes, and guided thanks to the mental health line of the Incorpora program of the “la Caixa” foundation.
It is a program that, since its launch in 2006, aims to accompany and train vulnerable people, recognizing their potential and preparing them to enter the labor market. One area of work is mental health, which is celebrating 10 years this year and has achieved more than 17,000 personalized route work placements.
Because, despite prejudice and discrimination, having a work routine makes it easier for people to structure their life project and gives them an active role in society, increasing their self-esteem and well-being. Therefore, when a person cannot go to work, the balance of their mental health is dangerously shaken.
Javier’s story can be, as he says, “everyone’s story.” In fact, it happens more often than we can imagine. In Europe, 27% of the elderly population is affected by mental health problems. That is 93 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2020 depression was the second leading cause of disability worldwide, with an associated economic cost estimated at €240 billion per year.
25% of European citizens will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime
The future is not promising – 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 lifeline
Its aim is to facilitate the employment of these people by providing the necessary support both to the company, the professionals involved and to the individual, fighting the stigma that exists regarding mental health problems in the workplace. Because employment, as described by the program, facilitates social recognition, promotes independent living and contributes to 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 so many ways and in such subtle ways,” explains Javier. For him and thousands of other program beneficiaries, work is one of those “ways.” Ordinary people with ordinary jobs who, due to some mental disorder or illness, one day felt they couldn’t. Today they get it again thanks to Red Incorpora and their experiences and those of other users 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 a mental health problem or disorder. It shows that with courage and all the professional support provided by the Incorpora program, they have been able to progress thanks to the autonomy and confidence that their daily work gives them. A podcast created by the Incorpora program of the ”la Caixa” Foundation and narrated by Manuel Jabois.
see, understand, act
The program of the “la Caixa” foundation also focuses on companies, not only to help them promote the employment of people with mental problems, but also to make them more aware of the psychosocial risks that can be generated in work teams. Because understanding what happens and what happens when the company decides to act is the first step and has a positive effect on both the worker, the company and society.
The benefit is threefold. In this way, they facilitate the normalization of the employment situation of these people, improve their quality of life and help to end the social prejudices that exist against them, while promoting diversity in the workplace. On the contrary, not knowing the risks and not taking action on them causes 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. An Incorpora Mental Health technical office has also been created for companies and professionals who, in addition to promoting mental health in companies, need free advice and support resources to find work to carry out the process of integrating these people.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT “INCOPORA MENTAL HEALTH”