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Supported Employment or Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Programs for Persons with Severe and Persistent Mental Illnesses in Wisconsin

Wisconsin's Johnson & Johnson/Dartmouth Community Mental Health Program Introduction

The State of Wisconsin, through the Department of Health Services (DHS) and Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (DMHSAS) and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), is committed to increasing employment opportunities for people with severe mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders.  In April 2010, Wisconsin received a Johnson & Johnson/Dartmouth Community Mental Health Program grant to develop Individual Placement and Support (IPS) supported employment in the state.  IPS supported employment is a type of employment program that helps people with severe mental illness with work and school.  To date, the first three pilot site grants have been awarded to the following agencies/county mental health programs:

  • North Central Health Care/Marathon County
  • Threshold Inc./Washington County
  • Family and Children's Center/La Crosse County

Principles of IPS Supported Employment*

Research studies have helped to identify the core principles of successful Evidence-Based Supported Employment programs.  These principles include:

  • Zero Exclusion:  All clients who want to work are eligible for vocational services.
  • Client Preferences:  Client preferences with regard to the type of job, the nature and amount of support provided, and decisions about disclosure are used to guide the process.
  • Integrated Vocational and Mental Health Services:  Frequent communication and contact between the client and their whole team (mental health, supported employment, vocational rehabilitation, and case manager) is an integral principle.
  • Competitive Employment:  Helping clients to find jobs that are open and available to anyone that pays at least minimum wage are the goal.
  • Benefits Counseling:  Individualized work incentives benefit counseling and planning should be provided to help clients determine the impact of work on their specific situation.
  • Rapid Job Search:  The job search should begin as soon as possible, with limited assessments or "work readiness" trials.  Typically this can be in as little as two weeks from the initial meeting between the client and employment specialist.
  • Follow Along Supports:  Follow along support to work related symptoms should be provided for as long as the client wants and in the way the client wishes to be supported.
  • Systematic Job Development:  Employment specialists develop relationships with employers, based on their clients' work goals, meeting employers face-to-face over multiple visits.

*Adapted from Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center "Practice Principles of IPS Supported Employment."  (version 10/11/11)


Additional Resources for Individual Placement and Support

Dartmouth IPS Supported Employment Center (exit DHS)

Dartmouth Article about Supported Employment (exit DHS)

Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (exit DHS)

Pathway to Independence Supported Employment Information (exit DHS)


Last Revised: September 24, 2014