News and Information

Welcome Stephanie Cooper, Assistant Director of Wellness and Employment!

As assistant director, Stephanie is responsible for the day-to-day administration of agency contracts for the provision of the Peer Wellness Initiative and Individual Placement and Support supported employment programs. She will also participate in annual contract development and processing, collection and analysis of program data and monitoring and approving contract spending. Stephanie comes to the Office of Wellness and Employment from Centerstone, where she had worked since 2014.

Welcome New Statewide IPS Trainer/Supervisor Melanie Randolph 

The Tennessee IPS Trainer Team will now be under the direction of Melanie Randolph.  Melanie holds a Bachelor’s in Social Work and Finance and a Masters in Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is a licensed Social Worker, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate and holds a CPRP designation. She joins us from Park Center Nashville where she has been serving as the Director of Supported Employment.  Prior to this, she was a veteran of an additional thirty years with the Commonwealth of Kentucky. 

State Fiscal Year 21 Data and Achievements

Download the Presentation at this link.

This Powerpoint Presentation discusses the data collected by Tennessee's IPS Supported Employment teams during state fiscal year 2020-2021 (July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021).  In addition to numbers served, job attainment, and job retention statistics, this presentation also contains wage and demographic information.

COVID-19, Unemployment, and Behavioral Health Conditions: The Need for Supported Employment

Download the White Paper at this link.

Download presentation slides at this link.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing behavioral health (mental health and substance use) disorders for many people and created new disorders for others. A robust evidence base shows that supported employment combines vocational and behavioral health supports to enable unemployed people with behavioral health conditions find appropriate, competitive, integrated employment.  Many more U.S. citizens will need these services as the pandemic recedes and jobs open up.


2021 Expect Employment Report Presentation (October 14, 2021)

Download the report at this link.

Members of Tennessee's Employment First Task Force presented the 2021 edition of the Expect Employment report to Gov. Bill Lee during a ceremony at East Tennessee State University.  The annual report contains highlights, accomplishments, and progress in the area of increasing employment for Tennesseans with disabilities.


2020 Expect Employment Report Presentation (November 2, 2020)

Download the report at this link.

Watch the full report presentation at this link.

Members of Tennessee's Employment First Task Force presented the 2020 edition of the Expect Employment report to Gov. Bill Lee.  The annual report contains highlights, accomplishments, and progress in the area of increasing employment for Tennesseans with disabilities.

NAMI TN Facebook Live Event (October 5, 2020)

View the video at this link.

TDMHSAS Director of Wellness and Employment Mark Liverman and Debbie Becker from the IPS Employment Center joined Gabe Howard of NAMI TN to talk about IPS Supported Employment and how it is impacting the lives of people in Tennessee and around the world.

FY20 IPS Onepager (July 17, 2020)

Download PDF document at this link.

This document published by TDMHSAS showcases the difference that employment, specifically IPS, makes for people living with serious mental illness.  It also includes information on persons served in state fiscal year 2020 and Tennessee counties where IPS is available.

The Landscape with Naveh Eldar - Interview with Debbie Becker from the IPS Employment Center (March 29, 2020)

Listen to the podcast at this link

Deborah (Debbie) R. Becker, MEd, CRC - Senior Research Associate with Individual Placement and Support speaks about the gold-standard, evidence based method of supported employment for individuals with serious mental illness, which brought hard research into the supported employment world. Debbie speaks about early research, key parts of the method, and the international IPS learning community, which includes 24 states and six countries/regions outside of the United States. 

Naveh Eldar has worked in the field of disability services for over 20 years and is considered a subject matter expert in the area of supported employment. He has supported individuals with severe psychiatric disabilities as the Director of Supported Employment with a Nashville based non-profit organization, and as a Tennessee statewide trainer of the Individual Placement and Support method of supported employment. In his current role with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Naveh supports providers across the state through the Employment and Community First CHOICES Medicaid program which supports individuals with intellectual and development disabilities.

TennesseeWorks Blog: Individual Placement and Support Helps Those with Mental Illness Get, Keep Jobs (February 13, 2020)

Generally, when we think about employment of people with disabilities, we think about people with physical disabilities or those who are blind or deaf. Working at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, much of our work is focused on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. One group, however, is too often left out of the conversation. That group is people with mental illness.

The Governor’s Employment First Task Force continues to try to improve the employment landscape in Tennessee for people with disabilities, and that includes people with mental illness. As a part of that task force, I get to work with Mark Liverman, director of Wellness and Employment for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. I asked Mark to discuss some of the issues and options for those with mental illness who are interested in getting and keeping a job. Mark was kind enough to answer my questions.

Question: Why is it important to address employment for people with mental illness?

Answer: Work is the best treatment we have for serious mental illness (i.e., people with schizophrenia spectrum disorder, bipolar, or depression). Two-thirds of people with serious mental illness want to work but only 15% are employed. They see work as an essential part of recovery. Being productive is a basic human need. Working can both be a way out of poverty and prevent entry into the disability system, such as Social Security Disability Income. Competitive employment has a positive impact on self-esteem, life satisfaction, and reducing symptoms, according to a 2014 study by Luciano, Bond, and Drake. The number of studies showing the effectiveness of Individual Placement and Support continues to grow. Individual Placement and Support is an employment service that helps more people with mental illness obtain employment than any other type of vocational program.

Read the full blog post at this link

News Release: TDMHSAS Continues State Leadership In Expanding Employment Opportunities For People With Disabilities (December 20, 2019)

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is continuing the state’s leadership in improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities through a new grant award. 

Tennessee is one of 13 Capacity Building States identified for the Visionary Opportunities to Increase Competitive Employment (VOICE) program through the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy.  The grant represents technical assistance which will flow to community behavioral health providers who use the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment model to connect people with severe mental illness to competitive integrated employment opportunities.

Read the full news release at this link.