The Alameda County BHCS Vocational Program, in collaboration with Bay Area Community Services and other Community Organizations and supporters, recently hosted the Second Annual Northern California Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Learning Conference. The IPS Learning Conference goal was to raise awareness and interest around the IPS Evidenced Based Practice and how meaningful employment facilitates wellness and recovery, hope and self-efficacy, for individuals living with severe and persistent mental illness.
At the conference, over 130 Agency Leaders, Staff, Consumers, Family Members and Advocates, gathered to pose intriguing questions, explore diverse opinions and experiences, challenge assumptions and share successes and struggles – In essence, to learn from one another.
The IPS Conference offered BACS Valley Wellness Center Participant Jeff Y. to share his ‘Back to Work’ story with the audience, which included the support he receives from Valley Wellness Center Employment Coordinator Veronica Pacana. Shortly after, numerous small group dialogues around employment began. There were 11 thematic discussion groups; Our very own BACS Executive Director Jamie Almanza co-facilitated the discussion of “How to Get an IPS Program Started,” while BACS IPS Vocational Program Manager Chris Llorente and Valley Wellness Center Personal Service Coordinator Linda Nguyen facilitated the topic “The Role of IPS on Mental Health Teams.”
BACS Executive Director Jamie Almanza says,
“Facilitating a round-table discussion with colleagues who are really exploring whether to commit to helping people living with mental health challenges get competitive jobs was really inspirational! Everyone had such enriched questions and really talked about how people going to work reduces symptoms of mental illness, and how they want their agency to start providing these services.”