VRS and the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) are partnering to enhance employment services for people with serious mental illnesses.
ADMH was recently awarded a five-year grant through the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop and implement the first individual and placement support (IPS) supported employment model for the state.
IPS takes an evidence-based approach to supported employment services by identifying the unique and individual skills and strengths of people with serious mental illness and assisting these individuals in obtaining personalized work opportunities at competitive wages in integrated settings.
“We are very excited to bring IPS supported employment services to Alabama and to collaborate with Mental Health to bring this opportunity to strengthen services for and improve the lives of our consumers with serious mental illness,” said ADRS Supported Employment Coordinator Tina Dortch.
The first step in developing a working IPS model in Alabama took place July 23 at the VR Staff Office in Montgomery with a meeting of the newly-formed Supported Employment Coordinating Committee (SECC). Among those in attendance were ADRS Commissioner Cary Boswell and new ADMH Commissioner James V. Perdue, who was sworn into office July 1.
In addition to the principle partnership of ADRS and ADMH, other key partners in the development of the IPS model include the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center, the Auburn Center for Disability Research and Services, and the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The program goal is to prioritize and offer full access to employment through individual placement and support services
for people who do not benefit from traditional vocational service,” said ADRS Commissioner Cary Boswell.
Intrinsic to IPS is integration of employment services and access to community mental health treatment programs. The concept is to fully rehabilitate persons enrolled in the program through employment, patient-centered treatment plans, health outcomes, sobriety, and recovery. The dual-pronged approach of access to community mental health centers and employment services leads to success in competitive employment.
“This type of integrated program has long been needed,” Dortch said. “Combining employment and treatment just makes sense.”