VP of Rehabilitation Services & Reaching Recovery Roy Starks Retires After 47 Years in Psychiatric Rehabilitation Field

(Pictured above: CEO & President Dr. Carl Clark (left) and VP of Rehabilitation Services & Reaching Recovery Roy Starks (right) at Roy’s retirement celebration.)

Vice President of Rehabilitation Services & Reaching Recovery Roy Starks, MA, is retiring July 13 after a long, fulfilling career in psychiatric rehabilitation.

As a national pioneer in the field, Roy leaves behind an incredible legacy. He dedicated 29 years of his career to the Mental Health Center of Denver, helping establish the organization’s nationally recognized psychiatric rehabilitation program in supported employment and education, the 2Succeed program.

“I have very much enjoyed my time here,” said Roy. “For someone who wants to do psychiatric rehabilitation, the Mental Health Center of Denver has been the best place to work. This is truly by far the most recovery-focused of any community mental health center in the country.”

A lot has changed in mental health care since Roy first entered the field in 1971. He started his career in psychiatric rehabilitation at Fort Logan and Denver Health in the 1970s. Psychiatric rehabilitation was a brand new field, created in response to the unfolding effects of deinstitutionalization.

“When people were being discharged from hospitals, they could go to community mental health centers to get medications and therapy. But they didn’t have a place to go to get housing, jobs, or support to go back to school,” said Roy. “The goal of psychiatric rehabilitation was to provide a supportive place for people to get things that they didn’t get from the mental health centers.”

When the Mental Health Center of Denver was formed in 1989, Roy was hired to develop the organization’s psychiatric rehabilitation program. This ultimately led to the 2Succeed work and education training programs we have today, including supported employment and supported education.

Roy played a pivotal role in establishing the Mental Health Center of Denver as a National Center of Excellence in Recovery Transformation, including the development of the Reaching Recovery® program.

“We have a prominent reputation of being a national leader in recovery-focused work,” said Roy. “We believe that the services we provide in psychiatric rehabilitation help people recover and live full lives.”

Roy’s work with the 2Succeed program has received national acclaim, such as the 2013 Reintegration Award in Employment from the National Council for Behavioral Health and the 2010 Science and Service Award from SAMHSA.

He was also recently awarded the 2018 John Beard Award from the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, recognizing his contributions to decisive, lasting and far-reaching advances in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation.

As former Board Chair and treasurer of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, Roy is passionate about the field of psychiatric rehabilitation and its strengths-based approach.

“Much of the mental health field is focused on reducing symptoms,” said Roy. “You tend to look at people and see their worst. With psychiatric rehabilitation, if you’re trying to help somebody get a job, you have to focus on their strengths. You have to focus on what they’re good at and what they’re interested in. So innately, it’s a very hopeful field. You’re seeing people in a positive light, and, for me, that’s just a much more fun and gratifying way to work.”

On August 2, Roy and his partner Cindy will move into their newly built custom home in southeast Pennsylvania. After spending his whole life in Colorado, Roy looks forward to living in a place that has more greenery, being near the ocean, and exploring Revolutionary War and Civil War history. He also looks forward to spending a lot of time with Cindy, with whom he recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.