Goodwill Mental Health Program Provides Support Needed to Gain Meaningful Employment
The Individual Placement and Support Employment Program is a journey that gives. Not only do IPS Employment Specialists meet clients where they are in their mental health recovery, they integrate work to help provide structure, financial stability, and purpose.
What is IPS
Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is an international evidence-based program that helps people with mental illness and/or substance use disorders find and keep jobs. IPS can also assist with educational goals that will lead to employment.
Goodwill® operates IPS Services throughout Milwaukee County.
Regina's Success Story with IPS
Regina began working with IPS in March 2020, just as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States. Her mental health care coordinator at Alternatives in Psychological Consultation, Tonya, referred her for services. Although Regina faced some challenges initially, such as navigating technology, she was persistent in meeting with Erika, her Goodwill Employment Specialist, to work towards finding meaningful employment. Regina was then connected with Vickie Jackson at the Department of Workforce Development Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) for additional support and guidance in her goals.
To decrease some anxiety and fears about losing her benefits, Regina was connected with Heather Dich, a member of Goodwill’s Benefits and Financial Education Team. She was able to help Regina understand how her wages could impact her Social Security Disability Insurance and health insurance. They also explored other insurance programs available to her as her income increased. Regina felt more informed and confident in taking the next steps in finding employment.
Regina has a passion for working with animals. Initially, she wanted to find employment in the animal care field. Regina and Erika diligently applied for several types of positions working with animals but ran into a lack of opportunities due to the pandemic and people staying home with their furry friends. Vickie encouraged Regina to expand her search to other fields. Regina felt like she could still find meaning and purpose in working in the food service industry. Vickie explained, “It was a pleasure working with Regina. She demonstrated motivation to find suitable employment, and when she was not able to find employment in her first goal, she quickly chose another occupation without hesitation.”
Regina interviewed at MOD Pizza in Shorewood, Wisconsin, and began employment in March 2021. Her work environment has been incredibly supportive. She works well with her coworkers, and they help
each other out. Regina explained, “it’s a great company because they are open to helping people with disabilities and people who need accommodations.” Erika helped Regina complete the pre-employment paperwork and attended her first few days of work to help with orientation and skill development.
“Regina was timid and lacked confidence when first starting at MOD Pizza. Throughout the past year, I have seen her take on more responsibility, advocate for herself, and feel proud of herself and her accomplishments,” explained Erika.
Regina was successfully discharged from Vickie’s guidance in October 2021 but was able to maintain IPS support with Erika. The following month, Regina’s manager promoted her to an All-Star role, where she now helps train new staff. Her manager explained, “Regina is an amazing worker, and I love having her on my team.” Her manager felt she earned her promotion and raise. Her care coordinator at
Alternatives in Psychological Consultation, Tonya, expressed her pride. “I’m very happy and proud of her employment growth and the skills she learned because of her promotion.”
Regina has come a long way since March 2020. “I was struggling with completing long-term goals in general but especially with work. Accessing IPS services has made all the difference. Now, I am confident I can overcome challenges and life struggles and keep my job.” The journey of Regina’s employment can be an example to employers and job seekers that finding a good fit for employment can be a process, but it ends with success!