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The unemployment rate for adults with serious mental illness (SMI) is at 85%, whereas most report wanting to work. The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model is a nationally-recognized evidence-based practice (EBP) designed to assist persons with SMI in obtaining and keeping competitive employment. Helping people return to work results in system-level cost savings, and is associated with improved recovery outcomes.

An IPS Team is staffed with a professionals who work closely with behavioral health providers, employers, and local vocational rehabilitation division staff to assist someone in finding a job or career that fits with their values, preferences, and skills. Following an “Employment First” model, the focus is on rapid placement into competitive employment, which are jobs paying at least minimum wage and open to anyone to apply.

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To help identify employment, IPS staff take the time to get to know the individual, partly through the completion of a Career Profile, and conduct outreach into the community to also get to know local employers through job development. Once successfully placed, IPS staff provide ongoing supports to assist the individual, all in coordination with the mental health team. The level of involvement of the IPS team is determined by the individual, who explores options around levels of disclosure about their mental illness. IPS staff are also trained to assist individuals in self-employment endeavors.