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Training helps workforce professionals better serve individuals with mental illness

May is Mental Health Month, a nationwide effort to raise awareness for mental health. Each year, this conversation seeks to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. Join the conversation on twitter with #MentalHealthMonth.

Training helps workforce professionals better serve individuals with mental illnessOn April 20 and 27, the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP), in collaboration with Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and 2-1-1 San Diego, hosted a two-day training on the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment. The training was offered to a broad range of community-based organizations and attended by twenty-five behavioral health employment specialists, job coaches, career counselors and vocational rehabilitation specialists committed to improving employment outcomes for individuals with mental health challenges, the majority of whom were recently hired in these positions.

The two-day training offered a condensed overview of IPS and its core principles. IPS, an evidenced-based practice, is unique because services are individualized, the amount of time a caseworker can spend with the client is unlimited and the focus is on competitive employment that is open to all job seekers. The IPS model of supported employment promotes recovery and wellness, putting a focus on rapid job placement. Additionally, it emphasizes meeting the job seeker in their community rather than the traditional office setting and requiring the employment specialist to spend more than 50% of their work week in the community developing relationships with businesses in an effort to expand employment opportunities for people with mental health challenges.

“The IPS model of supported employment not only promotes opportunities for people with mental health challenges, but it also encourages independence and self-sufficiency,” says Mario Becerra, SDWP Program Specialist.

This training is just one component of a five-year strategic plan, initiated by the County of San Diego and outlined by SDWP and CSH. Aligned with Live Well San Diego, the overarching goal of the initiative is to reduce the stigma of mental illness while increasing employment opportunities for individuals with mental health challenges. In addition to training, SDWP hosts quarterly employer socials, stakeholder and consumer focus groups and monthly Work Well Committee meetings. For more information, contact Mario Becerra at mariobecerra@workforce.org.