During the month of May, we will be highlighting some of the programs and services available to Johnson County residents who have mental illness. This attention is part of a larger, nationwide campaign known as Stepping Up—an initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illness in jails.
Since the launch of Stepping Up in 2015, more than 475 counties in 43 states have passed a resolution or proclamation to join the initiative and commit to creating a data-driven, systems-level plan to reduce the prevalence of mental illness in their jails and improve outcomes for people with mental illness in their communities. Johnson County is part of this important initiative and last May, was named one of seven innovator counties in the United States.
“Johnson County is very much leading the way in the nation to address this prevalent problem in our community,” said Mental Health Center Director Tim DeWeese. “Far too often, those with mental illness are not receiving the help they need soon enough, which can lead to contact with law enforcement. But we are excited to share that we are tackling this challenge head on, by engaging our partners across the county and community to find solutions.”
One of programs that’s helping those with mental illness avoid incarceration is Johnson County’s Veterans Treatment Court. The goal of this program is to identify veterans in the criminal justice system, and, when eligible, get them into treatment and court supervision as an alternative to incarceration. Over the course of 12-18 months, participants make court appearances, undergo drug and alcohol testing, treatment, recovery support meetings and are paired with a veteran mentor. The conclusion of the program includes a graduation celebration. Check out a recent graduation event and hear from the graduates.