MHTTCs Implementing Change

Region 6 MIC Story: Individual Placement and Supports (IPS) in First Episode Psychosis

Featuring the South Southwest MHTTC

MIC Stories (MHTTCs Implementing Change) feature technical assistance projects that had a significant impact on practice.

The Need

Employment in a meaningful job is a key component of life for most adults, but for people with serious mental illness, there are many barriers to finding and maintaining employment.  Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is an evidence-based model of supported employment for individuals with serious mental illness. Programs that implement IPS can see doubled rates of competitive employment from those that do not use IPS, and result in shorter time to first job, greater job satisfaction, higher earnings, and more consistent work hours (Bond et al., 2020).

Over the past year, the South Southwest MHTTC hosted a First Episode Psychosis (FEP) conference for the region, provided intensive training and skills development in the Structured Interview for Psychosis Risk Syndromes (SIPS), and hosts monthly peer-to-peer networking and sharing calls with regional FEP teams to further support best practice in Coordinated Specialty Care. One need that arose from these team calls was training and coaching support in IPS.


The South Southwest MHTTC partnered with Thresholds to provide intensive technical assistance on IPS for FEP Coordinated Specialty Care teams to better support the educational and career goals of the people they serve. While most staff had some training and skills in IPS, they identified a need for further skill development in applying the model to youth and young adults.


The South Southwest MHTTC serves U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region 6, including Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Participants representing 14 community mental health centers from Region 6 are participating. Organizations and participants were self-selected to receive this training and coaching. Disciplines include Supported Employment and Education Specialists (SEES) and their staff.

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What We Did

This intensive project is scheduled for 15 months, including the following components:

  • Foundational training in direct practice and program management strategies to support successful implementation of IPS practice in community mental health centers, June 2021.
  • Intensive 2-day workshop focused on developing supervisor and supported employment and education specialists’ skills and strategies to engage and support career development of older youth and young adults in community mental health centers, July 2021.
  • Monthly intensive coaching calls with SEES, September 2021 – February 2022.
  • Monthly mentor calls with SEES to provide ongoing support and coaching and track progress of practice implementation by teams, March through at least August 2022.


Thus far we have seen some challenges related to the typical changes necessary to organizational processes to support the implementation of IPS. As participants further implement IPS within their teams and organizations, obstacles will be documented.

Evaluation and Outcomes

  • Thus far we’ve had 44 participants in the 1-day foundational training, 33 participants in the 2-day intensive, and 21-26 participants in the coaching calls.
  • We are evaluating this project through identifying needs during the FEP monthly networking calls, as well as assessing knowledge during training, skill development, and reports of practice documented during coaching calls.
  • Key outcomes includeprocess outcomes such as engagement and participation of organizations and SEES staff, gains in knowledge and skills, and reports of use of practice.

Lessons Learned

As community mental health centers develop coordinated specialty care with FEP teams, they identify areas the team needs to improve for people in services to achieve their life goals.

Next steps for this project are to continue the coaching and then mentoring calls, track the progress of participants in implementing the practice, and gather success stories and lessons learned from participants.

Potential implications for the field may be a better understanding of IPS implementation by SEES staff within Coordinated Specialty Care teams in organizations. In addition to determining if this practice change results in better outcomes for the individuals served.


Bond, G. R., Drake, R. E., & Becker, D. R. (2020). An update on Individual Placement and Support. World Psychiatry, 19, 390-391.

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The South Southwest MHTTC, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is housed in the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health at University of Texas at Austin. The South Southwest MHTTC serves U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region 6, including Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The Center's population of focus is mental health clinicians, supervisors, and program managers serving individuals with or at risk of serious emotional disturbances (SED) or severe mental illness (SMI); peer support providers; community mental health, health, or peer-run organizations; and single state agency administrators focused on comprehensive state public mental health systems.

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