Individual Placement and Support (IPS) - Supported Employment


Supported employment is a program that helps people with mental illness and/or substance use disorders find and keep jobs, while at the same time providing employers with access to motivated employees.  From Europe to Australia and across many states in the United States, mental health centers and local businesses are partnering to provide real, meaningful jobs to people with mental illness. 
The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment is one of many types of vocational programs for people with behavioral health issues, and research shows it is very successful.  Established by the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center (now the IPS Employment Center, Rockville Institute at Westsat) IPS is based on eight key principles:

  1. Anyone who wants to work can participate in the program, and job seekers are not excluded based on diagnosis, symptoms or history.
  2. Employment specialists help job seekers look for competitive employment: jobs in the community paying at least minimum wage and not specified for people with disabilities.
  3. Services are based on the job seeker’s preferences and choices.
  4. Services are integrated with mental health treatment teams to provide job seekers with collaborative, professional support.
  5. Employment specialists help job seekers apply for employment quickly, rather than providing lengthy assessments or counseling.
  6. Employment specialists develop an employer network and relationships based on job seekers’ interests.
  7. Professional counselors provide job seekers with information about how employment may affect their government benefits.
  8. Job seekers get personalized support as long as they want it after obtaining employment.

Click here for more detailed information on The IPS Employment Center and IPS supported employment tools.

evidence-based practice

Colorado IPS Participants

Several of Colorado’s mental health centers are practicing IPS supported employment and experiencing great success, including:

Another key feature of the supported employment program is the collaboration with the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).

IPS Resources for Job Seekers

  • Help is Available
  • Work is a proven part of recovery for people with mental illness, and Colorado’s supported employment program provides help maneuvering the job market for those who may need it.  Based on consumer preferences and strengths, the program provides supports such as:
  • Personal assistance with identifying strengths and work interests; writing a resume; preparing for interviews; filling out online applications, and coaching on the job.
  • Guidance from professional counselors regarding how work could affect important benefits, such as Social Security or Medicaid.
  • Someone to advocate during the job search process.

Testimonials from Participants

  • Denver’s Road to Work - Watch this inspirational feature from Colorado’s 9News about helping Denver homeless people get back to work. 
  • Personal Accounts from Job Seekers - Click here to hear personal accounts from Griff McClure, former consumer and Employment Counselor from Denver.


IPS Resources for Employers

Supported employment provides unique benefits to both employers and people looking for work. Employers involved with the program are viewed as partners who share a goal of giving back to their communities.  

  • People Helping People
  • Supported employment provides unique benefits to both employers and people looking for work. Employers involved with the program are viewed as partners who share a goal of giving back to their communities.  At no cost, participating employers have the opportunity to:
  • Gain immediate access to prescreened job applicants, with skills and qualifications that are matched to needs.
  • Get additional support and on-the-job coaching for employees who may need it.
  • Qualify for tax savings of up to 40 percent through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

Watch the following video clips to help answer some of the most common employer questions.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit - The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal income tax credit that encourages employers to hire job seekers most in need of employment and on-the-job experience.  Targeted at specific groups, such as SSI recipients, disconnected youth and ex-felons, the WOTC is designed to help move people from welfare into gainful employment and economic self-sufficiency.

Additional Resources


  Alia Andrews
   Office of Behavioral Health | 303.866.7860

  Paul Barnett, MS, MA, LPC
   Office of Behavioral Health | 303.866.7427