Author: Lindsay K. Saunders
Aug. 28, 2019 -- DHHS and partners across North Carolina are helping people get back to work through Individual Placement Support (IPS), a community-based service for adults with serious mental illness and substance use disorders who are entering or reentering the workforce.
From July 2018 to March 2019, 38 IPS teams across the state created 848 new jobs, resulting in a competitive employment rate of 44 percent. Employment specialists work side-by-side with people to choose a meaningful employment path, identify competitive opportunities in the community and offer personalized supports to ensure long-term success on the job.
DHHS began implementing these IPS programs in 2013. Stakeholders recently gathered for the 2nd Annual Statewide IPS Coalition Meeting, which included about 100 people representing N.C. Medicaid, Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization providers, staff from DHHS' Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, partners from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and THE University of North Carolina Institute for Best Practices. The coalition and the annual conference allow the network of providers to support each other and the service.
“People with mental health are just trying to find their destiny,” said one individual who was honored during the meeting for successfully returning to work. “They just want to be understood.”
The conference opened with Chris Egan, the Senior Director for Employment Services for DHHS, welcoming attendees, saying that IPS fits into the state’s mission to promote recovery through employment. He highlighted the value of Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order No. 92: Employment First for North Carolinians with Disabilities, which was issued in March 2019 to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Other presentations included Lyn Legere’s inspirational personal recovery story “Working Capital,” a peer-led panel discussion on the role of Employment Peer Mentors, an overview of Vocational Rehabilitation headlines from Alice Farrar and a presentation on North Carolina outcomes and fidelity trends from the Division of Mental Health’s Jimmy Treires and Nicole Ness. Treires and Ness emphasized how they help the public understand what both IPS and VR are doing directly in communities.
At the conclusion, one attendee described the experience as a “tonic for the soul.”