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Helping individuals find work.

The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment Program is an evidence-based model that helps individuals with severe mental illness find competitive employment and provides ongoing individualized support. IPS helps individuals living with behavioral health conditions work at regular jobs of their choosing and builds relationships with employers to break the stigma associated with mental illness.

The impact of stigma can be profound. When people are at their most vulnerable state and in need of help, stigma can prevent people from getting the support they need. This paradox can not only deepen the symptoms; it also negatively impacts everyone around the individual, including society. It creates a cloud of shame and feelings of uncertainty that obscure what could be a clear path to recovery.

Work is the best treatment we have for serious mental illness. It is an essential part of recovery. Two-thirds of people with serious mental illness want to work, but only 15% are employed. Working can both be a way out of poverty and prevent entry into the disability system. Competitive employment has a positive impact on self-esteem, life satisfaction, and reducing symptoms. It helps build social connections and alleviates financial burdens. Employment is a path to recovery and individuals in the IPS program attain employment faster, hold their jobs longer, and work more hours.

Criteria for participation

  • Individuals must be at least 16 years of age and older with an Axis I mental health diagnosis (SPMI) may participate at any stage of their recovery.
  • The program currently serves individuals in Wake, Durham, Orange, Alamance and Chatham counties and is expanding.

The program collaborates with the North Carolina Divisions of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services and Vocational Rehabilitation.


A trusted team on your side

  • The Employment Specialist establishes a safe, trusting, and collaborative relationship with people supported on the caseload. They conduct job searches and job development based on individuals’ preferences. Employment Specialist builds relationships with employers through frequent employer contacts. They learn about the needs of the business and provide individualized follow-along support for maintaining employment.
  • The Employment Peer Mentor is a Certified Peer Support Specialist. A peer is someone who has lived experience of recovery from a mental health condition, substance use disorder, or both. Peers provide non-clinical strengths-based support to others experiencing similar challenges. They help support individuals in identifying their goals; provide self-help education and tools and dispel myths about what it means to have a mental health condition. Peers offer a level of acceptance, validation, and understanding that is not found in many professional relationships. They walk with individuals in their recovery and provide hope that individuals can and do recover.
  • The Benefits Counselor informs individuals of the multiple pathways to ensuring employment which results in economic self-sufficiency through the use of various work incentives.