The Stepping Up Initiative

Stepping Up urges county leaders to pass a resolution and convene teams of agency decision makers and diverse stakeholders to develop a six-step action plan to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.

Take Action

The National Association of Counties (NACo), the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF) have come together to lead a national initiative to help advance counties’ efforts to reduce the number of adults with mental and co-occurring substance use disorders in jails. With support from the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, the initiative will build on the many innovative and proven practices being implemented across the country.​

In May 2015, NACo and partners at the CSG Justice Center and APAF launched Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails and announced a Call to Action demonstrating strong county and state leadership and a shared commitment to a multi-step planning process that can achieve concrete results for jails in counties of all sizes. As part of this Call to Action, county elected officials are being asked to pass a resolution and work with other leaders (e.g., the sheriff, judges, district attorney, treatment providers, and state and local policymakers), people with mental illnesses and their advocates, and other stakeholders to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.

Stepping Up participants receive an online resources 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.


Participating Counties