Colleen Rucker: Advocating for Behavioral Health Equity Since 2003

Hannah-Morales

Meet Colleen Rucker, a dedicated mental and behavioral health advocate with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Colleen serves as the Program Director of Assisted Group Living at FSL, a Phoenix-based nonprofit focused on healthy aging. With her unwavering commitment to breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and providing compassionate care, Colleen has made significant contributions to the field. This blog post highlights her achievements, community involvement, and personal journey that led her to where she is today.

Meet Colleen Rucker

Colleen is a mental and behavioral health advocate with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Her deep-rooted passion for caregiving can be traced back to her close relationship with her father. He played a pivotal role in shaping her character and instilled in her the drive to pursue higher education. Her father’s unwavering support and pride in her accomplishments, including her position at FSL and her college degree in social science, were evident when he personally framed and hung her diploma on her office wall. As her father faced numerous health challenges and scares during the last decade of his life, Colleen stood resolutely by his side, providing unwavering support, advocacy, and care. The devastating impact of the Covid pandemic made his passing in 2020 even more challenging, as Colleen was unable to be physically present during much of his illness. Nonetheless, she considers it an immense privilege to have been able to provide him with the best care possible during those precious last days. Today, Colleen’s continued dedication to advocating for family caregivers lives on in her love for her mother, who has dementia.

What is Assisted Group Living?

Colleen began her journey with FSL at age 21 as a Behavioral Health Technician in the Assisted Group Living (AGL) program. AGL provides treatment for individuals who have a Serious Mental Illness (SMI) diagnosis. AGL facilities are staffed 24/7 and offer support to the residents to meet their individual needs and goals. This allows the individual to live in the least restrictive setting with the highest level of independence possible. AGL provides support to the residents by providing Certified Caregivers to assist with personal care needs, Behavioral Health Technicians, and Registered Nurses and Licensed Clinical Personnel.

Colleen’s innate passion and leadership abilities allowed her to quickly climb the ranks in AGL. Today, as the program director, she oversees a department of 115 members, operating 17 assisted group living homes across Maricopa County. Colleen created one of Arizona’s first behavioral health programs to hire BHTs without experience, providing comprehensive training to ensure success. Throughout her 16 years at FSL, Colleen has “graduated” hundreds of patients, equipping them with the social skills needed to advance on to the next stage of independent living. She has also established connections between 17 group homes by establishing monthly newsletters, staff and client recognition, and virtual connection opportunities. Colleen has been instrumental in creating growth opportunities for her department’s employees.

A Legacy of Mental and Behavioral Health Advocacy

Colleen’s involvement with the statewide community action board demonstrates her commitment to support and advocacy for individuals with Serious Mental Illness. Colleen Rucker’s incredible dedication to behavioral and mental health advocacy has positively impacted countless lives. Her personal journey, from a young caretaker to a Program Director, has shaped her unwavering commitment to making a difference. Through her work at FSL and community involvement, Colleen has proven herself to be a passionate advocate and an invaluable asset to the field of mental health. Her efforts in breaking the stigma and providing compassionate care serve as an inspiration to all.

Colleen shares, “People with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) are just like any other person. They have every right to pursue their dreams and deserve the same treatment as anyone else.”

Learn More: FSL’s Assisted Group Living Services

Being a caregiver adds some unique elements to the financial planning process. Here are some key components to consider in greater detail:

  • Planned, structured and coordinated therapeutic activities
  • Behavioral health management
  • Nursing oversight
  • On-call clinical team
  • Transportation for appointments and therapeutic activities
  • Assistance with self-medication program
  • Life skills training/Independent living program
  • Participation in licensed Adult Day Health Services program
  • Psychosocial rehabilitation
  • Individual/Family/Group counseling
  • Personal Care Services

About FSL

Established in 1974, FSL is dedicated to providing integrated, customized care for those who need it in the Phoenix area. We offer a wide range of home- and community-based services, including:

These services are designed to enable Arizonans of all ages to live happier, healthier, more independent lives. So, if you or someone you know is struggling to have their needs met, don’t hesitate to contact us and find out how we can help you. And if you’re looking to give back, consider donating or volunteering your time to our mission. We can’t wait to work with you!

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