Who said that social inclusion can’t bring economic impact?
Irad Ichlar, Founder
After many decades, where people with mental disabilities were isolated from society, closed in hospitals and with no vision of recovery, today, there’s finally a growing movement toward inclusion. This year, Rise was fortunate enough to be part of a respected panel at the OECD Forum discussing the pressure of modern life, its impact on mental health and the other way- integration of people with mental issues in the labor market. It was a great honor to present the way we used the mental health reform in Israel in order to create a social change side by side with an economic impact.
the World Health Organization reports that depression is set to become the second leading cause of disability by 2020. These issues often lead to loss of productivity, early retirement and higher rates of unemployment: the OECD estimates the total cost of mental illness at around 3.5% of GDP in Europe alone.
During the last two decades we have proved that mental disabilities are much better dealt, both effectively and economically, through integration in the community. Since the mental health reform in 2000, the changes in inpatients services resulted in financial savings. About 1 million hospitalization days (50% reduction) had been saved during the first decade in comparison to the previous one, bringing to saving of over NIS 1 billion (approximately EURO 185 million).
The fact that mental disabilities are perceived today not only as a social or economic problem, but rather as an opportunity, shows a very positive trend.
Researches have shown that over half a billion people are dealing with mental disabilities, 300 million are at workforce age and 70% of them are still unemployed. This is a disturbing figure when thinking about the quality human resource we are dismissing from the workforce. 210 million people who could be productive citizens to their societies and develop a sense of fulfilment for themselves. A person with disability who finds his/her way into the labor market, is now not dependent on social services and financial support, contributes to the GDP and pays taxes. It’s a win for the government, win for the society, win for the person.
15 years ago, I founded a small candle factory to provide employment for people with mental disabilities in a small town in the center of Israel. 15 years later, we are proud owners of RISE (by Shekulo Tov), an international vocational rehabilitation organization. Shekulo Tov is providing services to 6,000 people with disabilities in 120 vocational training centers only in Israel. Thanks to the innovative approach we promote, 30% of our service users, who were first excluded from the labor market and isolated from our society, are now working with a contract, while 95% of them earn minimum wage or more.
In the last couple of years, we have received international recognition for our unique model and successful practices, and today our innovative operations are replicating themselves and opening branches across Europe. Our aim is to promote innovation in the rehabilitation system, and we believe this can be achieved by mutual cooperation – the government authorities, the employers and the rehabilitation service providers.
The great change is still ahead of us but the recognition of an important body like the OECD is a strong base. We promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the free labor market and build the support system needed in order to maintain their integration and productivity.
We are always happy to open a discussion on these matters and meet new partners who share our vision. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interested in hearing more or would like to come visit us in Israel and learn more about our work.