Mental illness poses a serious challenge for Europe and the USA. Its economic and social burden is immense. It correlates with higher unemployment rates and lesser life quality. Despite its membership in the EU, Greece currently faces an economic breakdown, a 26.8 % unemployment rate, cutbacks in psychosocial services, and alarmingly increasing markers of mental illness and suicide. In a time characterized internationally by grave economic constraints, inability of small businesses to compete in corporate markets, and wasteful failure of traditional psychiatric treatments to address recidivism, modern social enterprises in Greece answer these conundrums in concrete, well-planned, and visionary ways, pushing psychiatric and economic reform further into the future amid a rough political landscape. They manage to return small profits and reduce psychiatric relapse.
The Greek social firm model is distilled from the principles of social inclusion and entrepreneurship. The firms’ running relies on the practical understanding of market operations, start-up financing, skills-based training, careful member selection and effective job placement. Traditional models of vocational rehabilitation (sheltered employment, pre-employment training, work clubs, research programs) have failed to provide job opportunities for the mentally ill. US-based federal work rehabilitation initiatives evidence disappointing rates of sustaining employment. Even in Europe, most social firms tend to follow an authoritative model. They consist of high ratios of psychotherapy staff and business experts and offer few opportunities for their vulnerable members to interact directly with their communities.
Greek social firms rely on an 80% ratio of patient participation for their daily operations. This is a grass roots initiative built on multidisciplinary collaborations, community-based partnerships, and a focus on self-sufficiency and shared ownership. Despite their successes, these ventures remain small-scale, unpublicized, subject to declining initial public funding and unknown to private investors, innovators, and stakeholders.
This project will produce a collaborative, character- and process-driven documentary that provides a videovoice needs assessment and can be used to stir public dialogue.It will examine the socioeconomic effects of this model on the immediate stakeholders and their community. The film aims to operationalize the principles of social entrepreneurship, in order to provide a pilot for its transfer to other communities and broaden the exploration of psychiatric and economic alternatives. Focusing on the above-mentioned domains, the film will explore the conditions of feasibility of social entrepreneurship and psychosocial growth for the mentally ill. This film is innovative in that it highlights a less known economic and psychiatric alternative, abstains from unreferenced expert testimonies, and invites the social firms’ members to become media makers and participate in their media representation.
Additionally, this project will create a multimedia internet platform, which will operate as an information hub and forum for the exchange of ideas, blogging, networking, attraction of private investors, and public education regarding social entrepreneurship and mental hygiene in Greece. The website will include boards for dialogue among all stakeholders (those diagnosed with mental illness, community partners, shareholders, and investors) democratizing the information flow, promoting a paradigm shift toward self-governance and economic agency, and inspiring other start-up initiatives across the web.