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:

  1. Is your leadership committed?
  2. Do you have timely screening and assessment?
  3. Do you have baseline data?
  4. Have you conducted a comprehensive process analysis and service inventory?
  5. Have you prioritized policy, practice, and funding?
  6. Do you track progress?

More Resources

Stepping Up Unites Law Enforcement, Mental Health Staff

One goal for the coming year is to get housing involved in the Stepping Up initiative, said Melissa Klass, Assertive Community Treatment team leader for Berryhill Center mental health clinic in Webster County, Iowa. “I think stable housing is a big concern in this community,” Klass said. “More and more people are living in unsafe conditions.”

Burlington Police Work to Serve the Mentally Ill

At least 20 percent of the department completed the more intensive Crisis Intervention Training, a 40-hour curriculum designed by local agencies to train a team of specialized officers to respond to calls that involve individuals with mental health disorders such as depression and intellectual disability.

New Criminal Justice Reforms Are Rerouting People Who Don’t Belong in the System

State and local policymakers are turning their attention from the back end of the criminal justice system—who goes to prison and for how long—to the front end. They are focusing on helping people avoid involvement in the system altogether, rerouting those who get caught up in it but don’t belong, and helping those already involved from getting in even deeper.