Complexities of Participating in Estonian Labour Market: Experiences of Persons with Mental Health Problems, Employers and Service Providers

Marju Medar, Zsolt Bugarszki, Koidu Saia, Anne Tiko, Indrek Sooniste, Anu Hall, Anu Rahu


The article explores how mental health services, social services and support from employers enable young persons with mental health problems to participate in the labour market. The qualitative study based on 32 semi-structured interviews was carried out within the framework of the project “Positive Attitude Development (PAD) – access to labour market for young adults with mental health problems” among persons with mental health problems, service providers and employers in Estonia. The results showed that young people with mental health problems, aged 18-35, are interested in participating in the labour market, but they experience multiple problems in different domains of life due to their disease, an insufficient educational level and working skills, and the lack of a supportive environment. Employers are motivated to employ them, but they need more support and counselling. A various selection of supportive services has been developed and provided by the Unemployment Insurance Fund, but the availability varies in different Estonian regions. The service providers and specialists point out the positive influence of the closest network and support programmes. The main supportive key elements were identified to be the following: (1) increasing tolerance and changing attitudes towards mental health problems in society; (2) more equal and open opportunities to participate in community life; (3) the need for the provision of specific support services in order to increase the self-confidence and working skills of youth and to develop the cooperation between service providers and employers; (4) more flexible solutions are needed for encouraging employment and entrepreneurship among vulnerable people in the community. Using the potential of the Estonian eGovernance system, easy access to entrepreneurial opportunities, flexible part-time positions and taxation solutions are needed to increase entrepreneurial spirit among young people with mental health problems.

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ISSN 1736‐9541 ISBN 978‐9949‐29‐232‐5