In February, Lubbock County was named the first “Stepping Up Innovator County” in Texas, because of their initiatives to address mental health in the jail. They were also awarded the Justice in Mental Health Collaboration Program Grant.
Stepping Up Initiative
Since May 2015, more than 450 counties have passed resolutions to join Stepping Up, a national initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.
Recognizing the critical role local and state officials play in supporting change, the National Association of Counties (NACo), The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF) are leading this unprecedented national initiative.
NACo, the CSG Justice Center, and APAF are working with partner organizations to build on the foundation of innovative and evidence-based practices already being implemented across the country, and to bring these efforts to scale. These partners have expertise in the complex issues addressed by Stepping Up and include sheriffs, jail administrators, judges, community corrections professionals and treatment providers, consumers, advocates, behavioral health directors, and other stakeholders.
Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask serves as a blueprint for counties to assess their existing efforts to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders in jail by considering specific questions and progress-tracking measures.
Here are the six questions county leaders need to ask:
- Is your leadership committed?
- Do you have timely screening and assessment?
- Do you have baseline data?
- Have you conducted a comprehensive process analysis and service inventory?
- Have you prioritized policy, practice, and funding?
- Do you track progress?
Anderson County has launched a pilot program to address the mental health of detainees in the criminal justice system. It includes a mental health screening and so far, about 30 percent of individuals booked into the county’s detention center have self-reported mental health issues.
Since joining Stepping Up in 2016, Dakota County has made multiple key changes, said Angela Lockhart, the county’s integrated service delivery coordinator. About 15 other Minnesota counties are also part of the program, including Ramsey, Carver, Scott, and Hennepin.