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.

Sources of help

The primary source of help is the family. Programs and institutional help are not recognized as key sources of support. When asked from whom they expect help to fulfill their goals, more than 2/3 (69.2%) of Bulgarian youth quote family first. Among the youngest, this result is to be expected, but in the 25-29 age group it raises concern and speaks of infantile and dependent behavior. This may also explain why such young people have ended up as NEETs.

Another worrying result is the low trust in education – only 11.2%. In the 20-24 age group, expectations from the family (72.3%) increase as compared to the younger age group (69.8%). This result is paradoxical, since at this age employers and universities should be the first to help youngsters find their way to achieving their goals.


According to Bulgarian employers, demotivation in young NEETs is related to the social environment in which they live. They tend to excuse the lack of motivation with the complex nature of the subjective feeling resulting from a series of failures. Furthermore, the society in no way stimulates young people to get out of this vicious circle.

Unlike employers, young respondents from the four countries are unable to evaluate properly the lack of motivation as evidenced by their responses. Over 2/3 of the Bulgarian, Irish, Hungarian and Latvian young people say they would be working, and another 1/5 state they would be working and studying at the same time. It can be interpreted in several ways. Firstly, these young people do not consider their current social status acceptable in the long run. They have sufficient self-confidence and see employment as a value. On the other hand, a long 5-year term implies a certain desire and expectation for employment to happen on its own, without  any effort on the youth’s part.


The young people from the four partner countries are committed to working and achieving financial sustainability – their top values. Family and human relations also represent important values, so respondents would like to expand them. To achieve these values, external help would be also welcome, however, an average of about 60% acknowledge that relevant competencies can be enhanced through training or education. The survey underlines that social activity, nature, healthier lifestyle and mental health too are important virtues for these young people.