Stepping Up Initiative Kicks off in Champaign County

Urbana Daily Citizen

By Nick Walton

Local officials from different departments and agencies attended a meeting to discuss addressing the issue of mental illness in jail facilities Tuesday.

Officials learned about the Ohio component of the Stepping Up initiative during a two-hour presentation with the program’s state officials.

Stepping Up is a national initiative aimed at reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.

The national movement was launched in 2015 by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Association of Counties, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation with support from the U.S. Justice Department Bureau of Justice Assistance to help people with mental illness and substance use disorders stay out of jails and on a path to recovery.

In Ohio, the initiative is funded by Peg’s Foundation, a private, philanthropic organization aimed at creating opportunities for sharing knowledge, promoting partnerships and inspiring improvements in the behavioral health system, according to the foundation’s website.

Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton is the project director for the Ohio Stepping Up initiative.

Instead of addressing mental illness in jails on a county-by-county basis, Stratton said, Ohio is tackling the problem on a statewide basis. Including Champaign County, there are currently 45 counties in Ohio participating in the initiative.

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