In the last few years, our centres have noted that the demand from those with psychiatric disorders has tended towards stabilisation. The programmes and initiatives carried out in this sense in recent years Care for people with mental illnesses(prevention, early diagnosis, early stimulation (n, etc.) have, without doubt, been noted for their positive effects.
On the other hand, we have seen a large increase in the number of people with mental health issues who have not been able to find work nor any other adequate outlet. This fact means that at present, the Sinergrup centres have 170 people contracted with severe mental health diagnosis, plus another 180 with dual pathologies (intellectual and mental disabilities). Thus, this mental health profile demands new strategies.
On this basis, the Sinergrup centres decided to face this situation in conjunction with other organisations, aware as we were that alone we would never be able to achieve the same results.
As a result of reflection and joint analysis, we designed a number of actions. The first was to establish an agreement of collaboration (December 2007) with the Catalan federation of associations for families of mental health sufferers (FECAMFAMM), an organisation regarded as a point of reference in the field of mental health. Through this agreement, FECAFAMM and Sinergrup agreed to collaborate in territories where both entities were present. FECAFAMM committed to not creating a doubled-up network of special employment centres and Sinergrup’s centres agreed to attend to the demands from the field of mental illness.
Once this initial agreement was in place, we soon realised we did not have in place a clear model to guarantee the integration of people with mental illnesses into the workplace. By extension and by default we applied to the two collectives the CET model, designed for people with psychic disabilities. We shared FECAFAMM’s view that all entities involved in this sector should participate and to that effect, we organised a technical forum (named as such by the study of work insertion and people with mental disorders) with AMMFEINA, coordinator of day centres for mental healthcare and the mental health forum. Since then, the Department of Work has become involved through Núria Pàlmies, head of services for work integration and workshop co-ordinator. For the contribution of methodology, a contract of collaboration has been agreed with the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. This study of the model has been integrated into a larger one which AMMFEINA commenced last year with the collaboration of the Pere Tarrés Foundation. The deadline we have set ourselves for definition of the model is December 31st 2008, given that with its transfer to the Department of Work, we need to have viable action criteria in place.
We are aware that the act of opening ourselves up to being involved in another collective requires an effort on our part to adapt our structures to this new situation. This adaptation requires the involvement of all participating agencies. Therefore, under the guidance and co-ordination of Dr. Cristina Gisbert from the Instituto de Asistencia Sanitaria de Girona and the Fundación Privada Campus Arnau d’Escala, from the University of Girona, a three-level training programme has been established:
On the 30th June and 1st July, the first training event for level 1 took place in Tarragona. This event, in which over 80 people participated from our management personnel and trustees, had an academic session aimed at acquiring basic knowledge and fundamental concepts of mental health issues and another session attended by those in the Generalitat de Catalunya responsible for management of mental health and work issues along with other regional heads of the mental healthcare network, who gave us their points of view on the mental health/work insertion balance and the existing co-ordination between the mental healthcare network and entities involved in work insertion programmes.
Levels 2 and 3 will take place as a joint 18-hour course between September and December. Their aim will be to provide a knowledge base concerning psycho-social rehabilitation and the social repercussions of these illnesses. It will also provide experiences and the basic tools for working with this group of people.
It is planned that this course will be carried out in each region and delivered by local mental healthcare managers so that we all share the same terminology and establish links to make working together ease in the future.
At a later stage, level 2 will consist of continuous training (4 or 5 years) and for level 3, a practical order of training will be established as well.
Every entity should reflect on the changes required in its organisational structure in order to respond effectively to this new challenge. This work, which will be wide-ranging, should be done individually by each centre, but results will be compared.
Within the occupation pact for the locally governed areas of the province of Tarragona (Pacto de Santes Creus) we are developing the “Crazy about Work!” programme in order to take the first steps in this extensive programme of work integration for people with mental illnesses.