IPS Services Help Wake County’s Robert Mitchell Gain Independence

Robert Mitchell wears a shirt with red, white and black print.

Robert Mitchell

Robert Mitchell struggled finding a job that would help him gain independence. Health issues such as knee and back injuries and difficulties in the job search were roadblocks to finding employment.

Early in 2019, Mitchell was referred to Monarch’s Individual Placement and Supports (IPS) team in Wake County from Vocational Rehabilitation. He was paired with Employment Peer Mentor Marcilla Smith, CPSS, who worked with him on creating a resume to provide employers his work history and polishing his interviewing skills to better express how his skills would fit the role.

Monarch’s IPS service, through Enhanced Services, is a person-centered, behavioral health service with a focus on employment, that provides assistance in choosing, acquiring and maintaining employment within the community.

Danita Horton, team lead ​for the Wake County IPS staff, said Mitchell is a man of few words but the staff worked with him to help him understand what an employer is looking for and what is important to make known during the interview process.

“They helped me look for jobs, attend seminars and helped me in a lot of aspects of my life,” Mitchell, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, said of the IPS staff. Smith also assisted Mitchell overcoming barriers such as transportation issues.

Today, Mitchell is employed as a front desk attendant at the Raleigh Inn, living independently and making plans for the future. After submitting his resume and going through the interview process, Mitchell was hired on the spot in February.

He shadowed with a co-worker during three days of training to learn the tasks needed for his role such as checking patrons into the hotel, learning how to process payments, and operating the security cameras. Mitchell said he appreciated having the IPS staff working on his behalf: “I knew I had somebody to help me out in case I had any troubles. They helped me look up information and fill out applications.”

Mitchell is grateful for Smith and Horton’s assistance, saying that without the IPS staff he most likely would still be looking for a job because of the barriers he had to overcome.

What does Mitchell recommend to someone in similar shoes struggling to find employment following a mental health diagnosis? “Seek help when you need it whether that means outpatient counseling or through a hospital,” he advised.

Mitchell appreciates the independence that has come with being employed and realizes the many positives in his life are thanks to steady employment. “After being employed and coming from a bad place that I never want to see again, becoming independent and making my own way is something that I really wanted,” he noted.

“I can look forward to better things in life and a better working experience,” Mitchell added. Both Smith and Horton affirm that Mitchell’s role of working with the public and patrons of the hotel has helped improve his social skills.

With employment working out well, Mitchell can focus on his social life and nutritional choices. “I am trying to be more outgoing and hang out with old friends,” he said, noting that it is easier now with a place to call home and his own vehicle. “Everything is going pretty good.”