Implementation of the research part of the project “L.I.K.E – Life Investment is the Key to Employment“.


According to the World Health Organization, four of the six leading causes of disability are due to neuropsychiatric disorders (depression, alcohol abuse, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). Project L.I.K.E. examines precisely this growing part of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 with mental health problems, as well as the inability of the conventional methods of employment to meet the specific needs of this target group.

The broad partnership within the consortium works internationally, seeking common European solutions for social inclusion and sustainable employment for young people with mental health problems. International studies conducted in Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary and Ireland will provide the necessary data to create an innovative multidimensional approach for active inclusion of the target group into the labor market.

The results of the survey are presented in several categories including demographics, work experience, marital status, interests and health.

Personal change

As for the personal change young people need, 55.6% of the answers chosen by Bulgarian respondents show preference for “activeness and self-assertion“. Almost the same percentage – around 50% – prefer “assessing your strengths and achievements”, as well as “coming up with better models to deal with your personal problems”.  As personal skills are developed, the young NEET finds it easier to discuss their problems with the family. On the other hand, this also reveals the need for psychological support for the loved ones to enable them to better understand and accept the difficulties of a young person with a problem. 1/5 or 19.3% of respondents disregard the need for personal change. The hypothesis is that this group tends to shift the responsibility for their own lives or failures to the surrounding community, and does not acknowledge their own responsibilities in the process of personal maturation.

When asked what would they do to change their lives and health, Bulgarian respondents state as their top interest activities where they may feel competent. 64% plan to engage in such activities.

In many ways, Hungarian young people tend to rely on others, especially family members, and admit how important it would be to improve their activeness and self-assertion (81%). They also acknowledge that evaluating one’s strengths and achievements is critical (78%). We consider that professional help may be crucial in achieving this goal, as well as in finding better models to address their problems (76%).

Basic global competences

The youth focus on competence means that future project work must also take into account the competence approach.

The Council of Europe defines 5 groups of key competences of particular importance in educating youth: political and social, intercultural, communication, social/information, and personal competences. NEETs and, to a certain extent, their parents sometimes are not fully aware of what these basic competences involve. Quite often, this leads to inconsistencies between reality, employers’ expectations and those of NEETs and their families.

Small realistic goals

Results from the survey reveal that young people are interested in the following actions/activities: setting of small realistic goals – 56%, caring for animals – 47%, participation in sports activities 45%, reducing the consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks – 33%, acceptance of a role and participation in society – 33%, engagement with creative activities – 32%. A smaller yet significant proportion is prepared to follow a sleeping and resting regime – 28%, quit smoking – 26%, reduce/stop the consumption of psychoactive substances and alcohol – 22%. However, almost 7% would not change anything to improve their lives and health, which means that nine out of ten young unemployed are ready to take action for change.




The results for Ireland and Latvia reveal a similar picture and demonstrate that personal change and basic global competences are a key element in respect of the target group’s expectations.

Young people are willing to set small realistic goals (78%), however, they need to define first which personal goals would be realistic for them.