START: Behavioral healthcare for people with I/DD and mental health needs

RMHS is launching an innovative program intended to help people who have an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD) and mental health needs.


The START program, which stands for Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources and Treatment, is new to Denver but is a nationally-recognized model with a rich history of success. It provides community-based crisis intervention, and is designed as a lifespan service for individuals ages 6 and older.


The Denver City Council in 2021 chose RMHS to begin a START program. The funding for the program was made available through Denver Human Services’ (DHS) Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Equitable Access to Services (IDDEAS) program.


Stakeholders in the I/DD community have long recognized a need for services for those who have co-occurring mental health issues and I/DD. In 2018, a community survey of I/DD stakeholders found that 65 percent of respondents identified the lack of mental health services as a “big problem,” making it one of the top five concerns expressed in the survey. The following year, the DHS IDDEAS Advisory Council recommended the city look into the START model, through the University of New Hampshire’s Center for START Services.

Established in 1988, START aims to improve diagnosis and treatment, support effective services, create service linkages, promote health and wellness, and decrease the need for emergency services.


RMHS is currently hiring for several positions to create this program in partnership with the national center, which will provide an opportunity to learn the model from experts.