Major Projects

Evaluation of Stepping up Efforts to Improve MH Services and Justice Utilization

Webinar: June 23, 2021 - Improving mental health services to reduce jail population

Certificate of Completion This presentation details a high-level view of the factors that affect the size of a jail population and the capacity for mental health services in and out of jail. The study examine steps taken by 950 counties to better serve individuals with mental illness including jail and community-based efforts.

The study is in collaboration with the Council of State Government’s Justice Policy Center, National Association of Counties, and American Psychiatric Association Foundation. The National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Health (R01 MH118680, MPIs Taxman and Johnson) funded this study.

Upcoming Webinars:

  • July 14, 2021
  • August 4, 2021
  • October TBD
  • November TBD

Download the flyer about upcoming webinars (PDF)

Important! Take Our Survey!

We would like to know about your experiences in addressing mental health (and substance abuse) services with individuals in the justice system.

Please complete this survey and we thank you in advance for helping us understand your jurisdiction and agency. We appreciate your contributions to this important study. All information will be confidential.

Survey for non-FL individuals

Survey for FL individuals

More than 10 million individuals are arrested and enter the U.S. criminal justice system each year. More than half have mental health disorders and two-thirds have substance use disorders. They are disproportionately low-income; 68% are minorities. The justice system has become the mental health care system of last resort. The three largest mental health care institutions in the country are jails.

The Stepping Up Initiative is a national initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails through a better connection to mental health services in the community. The Stepping Up Initiative is led by the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Council of State Governments (CSG), and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF). More than 500 counties have joined the Stepping Up Initiative. These counties are bringing their jail, probation, and community mental health and substance use agencies together to keep people out of jail and in community treatment.

I.M. Stepping Up (Implementation Mechanisms of Stepping Up) is a research study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH118680). The study will survey 455 Stepping Up Counties and 455 matched control counties to determine whether and how Stepping Up is helping counties reach their goals. The study will help improve Stepping Up efforts to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jail and will draw generalizable lessons that can be used for criminal justice and mental health implementation efforts.

Key Staff:

Dr. Faye Taxman of George Mason University ( and Dr. Jennifer Johnson of Michigan State University ( lead the I.M. Stepping Up study, with help from Dr. Jill Viglione of the University of Central Florida (

Funding Source: National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH118680)

Study Location(s): National

Major Goals:

  1. Evaluate multi-system justice and mental health implementation efforts on a national scale;
  2. Identify effective strategies for bringing evidence-based practices to vulnerable and underserved populations; and,
  3. Learn how to drive policy and practice changes that will improve mental health and reduce incarceration of individuals with mental illness.