CPI’s Employment Resource Book – Designed to Help Consumers Achieve their Employment Goals

The Center for Practice Innovations (CPI) supports the New York State Office of Mental Health’s (OMH) mission to promote the widespread availability of evidence-based practices to improve mental health services, ensure accountability, and promote recovery-oriented outcomes for consumers and families. CPI serves as a key resource to OMH by spreading those practices identified by OMH as most critical to accomplish OMH’s system-transformation initiatives.

Improving competitive employment outcomes for mental health consumers is a high priority for NYS, since these outcomes have historically been very low. For example, PROS programs across NYS have routinely reported competitive employment rates of less than 10% of program participants. NYS’s experience has resembled experiences reported by other states.

For several years now, CPI has helped PROS programs across NYS to use the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) approach to supported employment. This evidence-based practice is considered the gold standard; dozens of studies have shown the superiority of IPS compared to other approaches in helping individuals diagnosed SMI achieve competitive work,. CPI has used learning collaboratives to train PROS program employment staff members and to help program leaders with implementing this approach. These learning collaboratives include the use of online training modules, face to face training and consultation, and other resources.

One newly developed resource is CPI’s Employment Resource Book. Informed by the principles of IPS, it is designed for use by consumers with employment staff members, other practitioners, peer specialists, with family or friends, and on their own. It consists of 32 topics and 10 appendices that cover important issues during three critical time periods: prior to the job search, during the job search, and after getting a job. The Employment Resource Book will be useful to consumers who:

  • Aren’t presently committed to working – by helping them to consider employment and engaging them into the job seeking process
  • Aren’t working but considering work at this time – by helping them to take the steps necessary to find meaningful jobs
  • Are competitively employed and planning to stay with my current job at this time – by helping them with problem solving and identifying supports that can be helpful
  • Are competitively employed and planning to find another job – by helping them to plan for the next job and consider developing a career path


The Employment Resource Book is not a curriculum that should be completed in order to become job ready. Instead, the consumer selects only the topic(s) that are relevant and that might meet his or her work-related wants and needs at any point in time. Examples of topics include:

  • My decision to work
  • My hopes and concerns about working
  • Talking with family and supports about work
  • My personal strengths and job preferences
  • Important things to consider about my mental health
  • What if I have had legal problems?
  • Working and my benefits
  • Figuring out what I would like to do for work
  • Disclosure and deciding what to say about my background
  • Preparing for the job interview—The basics
  • How do I explain gaps in my work history? Or having several brief jobs?Or being an older worker?
  • Dealing with my concerns when I’m starting a new job
  • Contacting supports when the job becomes challenging

Examples of appendices include:

  • Basics of benefits counseling
  • Sample resumes
  • Interview tips
  • Starting the new job and preparing for the first day of work
  • Using supports

Each topic has three parts:

  • Important information: Each topic contains several “Important Information” sections that introduce the topic and provide important facts for thought and discussion.
  • Personalized activity: After many of the information sections, the individual will be presented an activity to help her/him think through the information and how it applies to her/his life. Activities may consist of worksheets, checklists, questions for consideration, or other exercises.
  • Next steps: This section allows the individual to decide on next steps for moving closer to the employment goal.

We believe that this resource will inspire and empower consumers to pursue competitive employment, as well as help them to keep a job once they have obtained it. It will be especially useful to consumers who aren’t presently committed to working, helping them to consider employment and engaging them into the job seeking process.

You can obtain the Employment Resource Book through the CPI website (http://practiceinnovations.org/) by clicking on the “Purchase CPI Products” tab on our home page.  You will be asked to register and to select a password for your account.  Once your account has been established, you will be able to download an electronic version for free or purchase bound paper copies.

For additional information, contact Paul Margolies at margoli@nyspi.columbia.edu.

Thomas Jewell, Paul Margolies, Gary Scannevin, Jr. and Lisa Dixon are with the Center for Practice Innovations. Anthony Salerno is with New York University.

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