Russia – young people with mental illness need access to vocational training

Action needed to ensure people with mental illnesses can access vocational training


The Federation’s Public Chamber has been discussing how young people with mental illnesses can learn a profession and in so doing exercise their right to work.

On 23 January, the Public Chamber held a round-table event on “Vocational training for young people with mental disorders”, with discussions chaired by Natalya Pochinok, Chair of the Public Chamber Commission for Social Policy, Labour Relations, Cooperation with Trade Unions and Support to Veterans and Rector of the Russian State Humanitarian University. She explained that the results of the day’s discussions would form the basis for recommendations to be submitted to Government.

Anna Bitova, Director of the Centre for Therapeutic Pedagogy, spoke of her experience during a recent visit to Germany. “Things have changed there in the last few years. People suffering from mental illnesses and disorders are now able to access the services they want, with the level of support determined according to their needs. In addition, a special jobs’ budget has been created whereby the Government pays the employer up to 70% of these people’s wages. But what is it we need to change? We need the individuals themselves to make the choice”, said Bitova. In order to do this, we first have to broaden the list of professions which these people can learn. According to Bitova, in some regions mental illness sufferers are only offered two vocational programmes, compared with the seven available in Moscow and 28 in St Petersburg.

Galina Golovina, a pedagogical psychologist at Technology College no. 21 in Moscow, said that one of the difficulties she and her graduates have to face is the lack of support available under current legislation to help people into work. 

Experts repeatedly focused on the lack of career guidance in remedial schools. Assistance to students suffering from mental disorders is provided at the professional training stage. To this end, it is possible in these institutions to change a profession halfway through a person’s training. One solution to the problem could be through employer practices – this way, a young person with a mental illness could learn more about a particular career, see what they make of it and be able to try their hand at it. 

Experts also stressed the need to work on the motivation of people with mental illnesses from a very early stage to ensure they become interested and involved in socially useful work.

The event was organised by the Public Chamber’s Commission for Social Policy, Labour Relations, Cooperation with Trade Unions and Support to Veterans, the Russian State University of Public Health and the “Special Childhood” Centre for Therapeutic Pedagogy, with support from the Public Chamber Commission for the Development of the NGO Sector and Support to SONGOs and the Public Chamber Commission on the Protection of Human Health and Healthcare Development.

A full record of the discussions can be found on


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