Individual placement and support programs

Program basics

  • Aims to improve occupational and rehabilitation outcomes for people with severe and persistent mental illness
  • Through a supported employment intervention, participants receive rapid job search and individualized job placement services and are encouraged to participate in services with no exclusion criteria
  • IPS specialists help clients find jobs, spend 70% or more of their time in the community supporting participants, and are available for virtually unlimited support and follow-up

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Promising (Third-highest tier)

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Promising (Third-highest tier)

Individual placement and support programs are not yet in any of the major clearinghouses, but have demonstrated positive results in an independent, high-quality evaluation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor


Target population

Low- and moderate-income adults

Program cost

$5,500 per participant

Implementation locations

Dates active

1996-Present

Outcomes and impact

  • Increased employment by 14.8 weeks over a yearlong intervention
  • Increased earnings by $6,663 and 30 percentage points relative to control group
  • Increased probability of employment relative to control population by 240%

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review.
  • Engage only with employers offering competitive wages and benefits whenever possible, rather than sheltered jobs (positions that are offered only to people with disabilities).
  • Integrate employment services into existing mental health programs.
  • Hire dedicated program specialists focused exclusively on working with their clients on obtaining and maintaining competitive jobs. Keep their caseloads relatively small (25 or fewer clients).
  • Train program specialist to support clients through the entire employment process, from initial job search to ongoing support once employed.
  • Partner strategically with employers based on clients’ expressed professional interests, strengths, and preferences, along with the specialist’s evaluation of individual company cultures.
  • Keep the program open to as broad a population as possible – do not exclude participants on the basis of diagnosis, hospitalization history, criminal justice history, or work readiness criteria.
  • Minimize pre-employment assessments, training, and counseling, instead prioritizing rapid job placement – ideally within one month.

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