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

American Jail Association 38th Annual Conference and Jail Expo

American Jail Association 38th Annual Conference and Jail Expo

This conference is the only national event that focuses exclusively on local jails and detention facilities. Topics this year will include issues related to mental health; bail reform; comprehensive reentry for people with opioid addictions; trauma-informed training; and caring for veterans.

How the Stepping Up Initiative Is Combatting the Mental Healthcare Crisis in Jails

Since joining Stepping Up, both Douglas and Champaign counties in Kansas have implemented mental health screenings in jail to get beyond guesswork and make more informed decisions about the strategies needed to have a measurable impact on the number of people with mental illnesses in their jails. Both counties were also named Stepping Up Innovator Counties for their recent efforts to accurately identify people with serious mental illnesses and collect related data.

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.”