National Stepping Up Initiative

DBHDS is excited to announce its support of the Stepping Up Initiative , a national initiative to reduce the number of persons with mental illnesses in jails!

The National Association of Counties (Website), the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center (Website), and the American Psychiatric Foundation (Website) have come together on the Stepping Up Initiative. The Initiative seeks to provide counties with clear direction for developing an action plan that makes effective use of resources, to facilitate access to treatment and promote appropriate alternatives to jail for persons diagnosed with mental illnesses. The Stepping Up Initiative Website was developed, where individuals and counties can sign up for the initiative, access online webinars and toolkits, and track the Initiative’s progress. The Initiative has three key components:

  • A Call to Action – The Initiative began with a national announcement on Capitol Hill in May 2015, followed by several kick-off news conferences throughout the country. It has received the support of US Senators and other key legislators and agencies. The Initiative’s website encourages counties to pass a county resolution or proclamation committing to key actions, including collecting data to determine the extent of the problem within each jail, developing a plan with a team of diverse stakeholders that draws on sound research, and designing an approach to track progress. County governments must pass a resolution to be formally recognized as “signing on” to the Call to Action on the Stepping Up website. Please see the following link for a sample resolution.
  • Technical Assistance – Stepping Up participants receive an online toolkit to assist with efforts, including a series of webinars, exercises and related distance-learning opportunities; peer-to-peer exchanges; and key resources from initiative partners. The online toolkit includes self-assessment checklists and information to assist counties in identifying how much progress they have already made and a planning template to help county teams develop data-driven strategies that are tailored to local needs. The webinar topics available on the site are as follows:
    • Getting Started with Stepping Up
    • Collecting and Reviewing Prevalence Numbers and Assessing Needs of People with Mental Illness in Jails and Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders
    • Examining Treatment and Service Capacity to Serve People with Mental Illness 
    • Developing a Plan to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illness in Jails 
    • Implementing Research-Based Approaches to Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illness in Jails
    • Creating Processes to Track Progress.
  • A National Summit – The National Summit will be held Sunday, April 17, 2016 – Tuesday, April 19, 2016 in Washington, D.C. 

Following the kick-off events in May 2015, the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the Senate, passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation seeks to improve on the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act, and includes simple measures that would fund alternatives to jail and prison admissions for those in need of treatment and expand training programs for law enforcement personnel on how to respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis. This legislation would authorize the appropriation of $30 million annually over the 2016-2020 period for the Department of Justice to make grants to state, local, and tribal governments to improve mental health services in the criminal justice system.

DBHDS is committed to doing its part to support this important Initiative and will continue to update this site as more information becomes available!