2019 Stepping Up Month of Action Highlights

June 12, 2019

By The Council of State Governments Justice Center Staff

Since the national Stepping Up initiative launched in 2015, nearly 500 counties across the country have passed a resolution to create data-driven plans to reduce the prevalence of mental illness in jails. To celebrate this progress and drive further action, the Stepping Up partners and counties promoted the impact of their efforts during Stepping Up’s Month of Action in May, to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month.

Here are some highlights from the Stepping Up Month of Action:

Stepping Up Partner Updates

  • The Stepping Up partners released the Stepping Up Strategy Lab, an interactive library of more than a hundred examples of successful strategies that counties have used to address the crisis of mental illness in jail.
  • More counties used the Stepping Up County Self-Assessment to evaluate the status of their current efforts and identify strategies to advance their work to reduce the prevalence of mental illness in jails.

Innovator County News

  • Calaveras County, Calif.; Johnson County, Kan.; and Pacific County, Wash., participated in Q&As about their efforts to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails. These three counties are among Stepping Up’s Innovator Counties, a growing cohort of counties that are successfully implementing Stepping Up’s recommended three-step approach for gathering accurate, accessible data on mental illness in jails.
  • Berks County, Pa.; Douglas County, Neb.; and Lubbock County, Texas, were the latest to be named Stepping Up Innovator Counties. Learn more.

Communities in Action

  • Alachua County, Fla., held a townhall meeting at the local police department to highlight the success of partnerships and programs to address this need, including a 34-percent reduction of people experiencing a serious mental health crisis while in jail between 2014 and 2018.
  • Boone County, Mo., issued a proclamation recognizing May 2019 as the Stepping Up Month of Action and shared a press release highlighting the county’s success with the initiative since joining four years ago.
  • Cleveland County, Okla., posted about its efforts on social media, including sharing data from the sheriff’s office. The county’s efforts include Cleveland County Detention Center’s recent implementation of a screening process to identify people in need of services and to make referrals.
  • Chatham County, Ga., leaders hosted a Mental Health Symposium and opened a behavioral health crisis center in Savannah that provides treatment to people experiencing mental health crises.
  • Cherokee County, Ala., adopted a Stepping Up Month of Action resolution to promote positive outcomes for people in their criminal justice system who have mental illnesses.
  • Dallas County, Texas, proclaimed May 7 as a Stepping up Day of Action to promote the opening of a psychiatric crisis residential unit, a diversion program for people who need treatment while in custody, and more.
  • Dauphin County, Pa., established a Stepping Up committee that will convene monthly to review data collection efforts and trends, complete exercises from the Stepping Up Project Coordinator Handbook, and review current action steps, barriers and limitations.
  • Douglas County, Kan., leaders hosted an event to recognize community members working to reduce the prevalence of mental illness in their jail. Since joining Stepping Up in October 2015, the county has reduced the number of people with serious mental illnesses who are booked into Douglas County Correctional Facility by 56 percent.
  • Fairfax County, Va., provided an update of its efforts on its website and also shared videos on social media highlighting county mental health and crisis services. Close to 1,400 people have been diverted from potential arrest thanks to the county’s Diversion First initiative.
  • Forcyth County, N.C., held its second graduation ceremony for the Stepping Up Process to End Recidivism (SUPER), a program that provides post-release support services to women with mental health and substance use issues.
  • Johnson County, Kan., launched a social media campaign to highlight different aspects of its initiative throughout the month of May. Program highlights featured videos and testimonials about the county’s veteran’s treatment court, mental health first aid training, mental health and law enforcement co-responder program, among others.
  • Lewis and Clark County, Mont., passed a proclamation declaring the Board of Commissioner’s commitment to Stepping Up and posted the reading of the proclamation on social media. The county also hosted a luncheon to educate the community on its Stepping Up efforts.
  • Marion County, Iowa, worked with the media to highlight the county’s efforts to divert more people who have mental illnesses from jails into treatment, including recently implemented crisis intervention training for law enforcement officers, a reentry referral program for people with behavioral health needs in jails, and more
  • McLean County, Ill., launched a social media campaign to highlight its progress with Stepping Up. Nearly 100 percent of all law enforcement officers in the county are now trained in crisis intervention and the county continues to push for data sharing and collaboration to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses in jails.
  • Mendocino County, Calif., hosted its first Stepping Up community forum.
  • Miami-Dade County, Fla., hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery, which will serve individuals with mental illnesses and substance use disorders who are diverted from the criminal justice system. The center is one of many innovations happening in the county designed to foster more coordination between law enforcement, mental health agencies, and court diversion programs.
  • Pacific County, Wash., hosted a Stepping Up walk to raise mental health awareness, which was attended by community members and Long Beach Mayor Jerry Phillips.
  • Pettis County, Miss., hosted a community mental health summit to recognize the efforts of the county’s Mental Health Coalition.
  • Santa Clara County, Calif., held a public event at its Reentry Resource Center, which featured highlighted strategies to reduce the number of adults with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders in jail.
  • Santa Fe County, N.M., leaders highlighted the behavioral health services provided at their adult detention facility in a presentation to the county’s policy and planning committee.
  • Progress was celebrated at the state level, too. The Alabama Department of Mental Health and Gov. Kay Ivey lauded the state’s Stepping Up efforts, including its expanded support of five community mental health centers.

If your county is interested in joining the Stepping Up movement, visit StepUpTogether.org or reach out to info@SteppingUp.org to learn more.

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