START is an evidence-based, community crisis prevention and intervention service model for individuals aged 6 and older with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and mental health needs (IDD-MH). The START model is person-centered and solutions-focused, employing positive psychology approaches and other evidence-based practices.

START Stands for Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources, and Treatment.  

National Center for START Services®

The National Center for START Services® (NCSS) is an initiative that works to strengthen efficiencies and service outcomes for people with IDD and mental health needs in the community. The National Center was established at the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability in 2011 to provide technical assistance, clinical expertise, training, and consultation services that support the development of:

  • Comprehensive evaluation of services & systems of care
  • A systems linkage approach to service provision
  • Expert assessment & clinical support
  • Outcomes-based research & evaluation
  • Short-term therapeutic resources & opportunities
  • Cross-systems crisis prevention & intervention planning
  • Family support, education & outreach
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration

START Model Acknowledgement

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) recognizes the decades-long contributions of Dr. Joan Beasley, to the field of therapeutic interventions for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health needs. Beginning in 1992, Dr. Beasley and co-authors published a series of papers describing protocols that would ultimately become the Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources, and Treatment (START)/Sovner Center Model.  

The National Center for START Services® (NCSS) was founded in 2011 at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. Through the efforts and dedication of Dr. Beasley and her colleagues, the National Center for START Services® provides technical assistance, training, evaluation, and certification to START programs and resource centers, serving the mental health needs of thousands of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Today, START is an evidence-informed and evidence-based model which strives to build capacity across systems to meet the needs of individuals with IDD-MH.  

Dr. Beasley is a Research Professor at the University of New Hampshire where she conducts research on the mental health aspects of intellectual and developmental disabilities. She currently leads the National Research Consortium on Mental Health in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at UNH. 

Supporting Literature for the START Model

The following publications provide additional information and context about the development and refinement of the START model by Joan Beasley, PhD, and colleagues.  

Beasley, J., Kroll, J., & Sovner, R. (1992). Community-based crisis mental health services for persons with developmental disabilities: The START model. The Habilitative Mental Healthcare Newsletter, 11(9), 55-58. 

Beasley, J. (1997). The three A's in policy development to promote effective mental healthcare for people with developmental disabilities. The Habilitative Mental Healthcare Newsletter, 16 (2), 31-33 

Beasley, J. B., Kroll, J. (1999). Family caregiving part II: Family caregiver professional collaboration in crisis prevention and intervention planning. Mental Health Aspects of Developmental Disabilities, 2(1), 1-5. 

Beasley, J. B. (2000). Family caregiving part III: Family assessments of mental health service experiences of individuals with mental retardation in the northeast region of Massachusetts from 1994 to 1998. Mental Health Aspects of Developmental Disabilities, 3(3), 105-113. 

Beasley, J. B. (2001). Collaborative services in Massachusetts: The START/Sovner Center Program. Impact, 14(3), 16‐17.  

Beasley, J. B., & duPree, K. (2003). A systematic strategy to improve services to individuals with coexisting developmental disabilities and mental illness: National trends and the ‘Connecticut blueprint’. Mental Health Aspects of Developmental Disabilities, 6(2), 50-58. 

Beasley, J. B. (2003). The START/Sovner Center Program in Massachusetts. The NADD Bulletin, 6(3), 57‐59.