Stepping Up recently premiered an animated video describing how counties can collect accurate, accessible data on the number of people entering their jails who have mental illnesses, a critical first step for making measurable reductions to the prevalence of mental illness in jails.
Stepping Up Initiative
Since May 2015, more than 425 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?
The Champaign County Jail signed onto the Stepping Up Initiative after Deputy Chief Allen Jones realized the majority of the jail’s “frequent flyers,” who landed in jail five or more times a year, had mental health or substance use issues.
One of the first grants that our Stepping Up team secured financed an intake survey that identifies people for whom jail time is not the best solution. Once an individual is identified with a mental health or other problem, one of our county’s network of service providers can be brought in to help.