UW-Madison's Bob Meyer received the Government Service Award earlier this month from the Wisconsin chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Meyer earned the award for his outstanding work as a trainer in the Individual Placement and Support Program (IPS).
Meyer currently works with the School of Education's Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education as a senior rehabilitation specialist.
"Work is such a big part of everyone's story and identity," Meyer said in a NAMI Wisconsin press release. "Indirectly, I help individuals in mental health programs work toward finding their dream job."
Meyer supports Wisconsin's IPS Program through a contract with the DHS Division of Care and Treatment Services. IPS, also known as supported employment, is an evidence-based employment model for individuals living with severe and persistent mental illness. Employment specialists help clients obtain competitive jobs. The goal is to help the client become as independent as possible. Research has shown the model to be effective for people with many different diagnoses, educational levels, and prior work histories, said the press release.
Meyer was nominated for the award by Kathy Rohr, the director of adult programs for the Family and Children's Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
"Bob is the best trainer I've ever had," she said in the press release. "Roll out of IPS in Wisconsin went so well in large part due to his diligent efforts. His work has impacted lives all across Wisconsin."
Julianne Carbin, executive director of NAMI Wisconsin, also praised Meyer: "Bob is a true advocate who works tirelessly at the individual, system, and policy level to advance access to competitive employment for those with severe mental illness," Carbin said in the press release. "He is whole-heatedly dedicated to ensuring people achieve recovery through work."
In Wisconsin, IPS is a partnership between DHS, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), and UW-Madison, and it is growing rapidly. Today, there are 31 counties with IPS programs. The program started in 2010 with three counties, and now 45 percent of participants are employed each quarter, a jump from 28 percent in the program's early days, the press release said.
"Every time I visit a site I hear amazing success stories," Meyer said in the release. "The real credit for these success stories goes to the individuals and employment staff who work daily to make employment part of recovery."
Meyer, who has worked for the last 20 years in a variety of outreach and research roles focused on work “fit” and disability, also manages a learning collaborative to help staff in the IPS Program and the DWD Division of Vocational Rehabilitation learn from each other and expand their knowledge base to improve their services, said the press release.