By Cecilia Fox
In an effort to help people with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems into treatment and out of jail, Miami County will be participating in the Stepping Up initiative.
According to the initiative’s website (stepuptogether.org), approximately 2 million people who have serious mental illnesses are admitted to jails across the country. About three-quarters of those people also have substance abuse problems. Most of them tend to stay longer in jail, are released without services and have higher rates of recidivism, according to data collected by Stepping Up.
“We’re trying to lower the jail population,” Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said during a recent meeting with county commissioners, adding that much of the jail population has mental health or substance abuse problems.
Duchak described the program as a “toolbox,” offering resources to partnering counties. He said the county is already trying to do a lot of things recommended by the program, pointing to the partnership between the Sheriff’s Office, the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services, and the Miami County Recovery Council.
“This kind of puts the county on the map. It does give us a little bit more access to potential funding and so forth,” he added. “There’s no cost to this. I think it’s a win-win.”
Lt. Nate Collett, a jail administrator, said the goals of the program are to get people with mental health and substance abuse problems out of jail and “in treatment, keep them on their medications, keep them in whatever program they might be doing.”