MiMeet Mini-Grantee: Mirai Work

Founded in 2020, Mirai Work is a small business located in Hiroshima, Japan that specializes in programming for individuals with disabilities. The Japanese word “mirai” means future and embodies the organization’s mission, which is “to realize a society where everyone can work with enthusiasm.” Mirai Work’s return-to-work program uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in combination with supported employment services to help individuals with mental health disabilities return to work and thrive in a work environment. Mirai Work also offers a program that provides training to individuals with mental health and other disabilities about living independently in the community.

As a mini-grant awardee, Mirai Work proposed a project that targets “hikikomori” youth. Hikikomori is a Japanese term used to describe youth and young adults who suffer from a severe form of social withdrawal. Hikikomori youth often isolate in their parents’ homes and are unable to work or go to school for months or years. Many hikikomori youth and young adults have mental health disabilities.

Mirai Work’s project specifically targets hikikomori youth who are already engaged with service providers, such as support groups. Mirai Work will collaborate with these service providers to integrate work-related opportunities into the typical services and supports the youth receive. These work-related opportunities will include virtual company tours, informational interviews with company employees, and job applications. The project will connect hikikomori youth to employers so youth can begin to consider work as a viable option and apply for jobs.

For Mirai Work, virtual programming offers many benefits. Virtual programming allows youth to see what workplaces are like, what kind of work is needed, and who they may be working with. The virtual format helps reduce youths’ anxiety toward work and can eventually help them out of seclusion and into secure employment.

As a first step, Mirai Work plans to form a consortium comprised of organizations in Hiroshima that already work with hikikomori youth, including support groups, disability employment service providers, and educational institutions. They will also reach out to local government and media to publicize this effort. Mirai Work will recruit employers with a track record of hiring persons with disabilities to host virtual company tours. Overall, the project hopes to raise awareness of hikikomori youth and young adults with disabilities and pilot strategies that provide them access to meaningful jobs.

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