New dashboard highlights mental health and criminal justice system collaborative

Today, March 1, marks the official launch of a new dashboard that highlights data gathered from Johnson County Mental Health Center and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office to track the effectiveness of providing mental health services to incarcerated individuals.

The goal is to reduce the prevalence of mental illness within the jail system and provide needed services to help individuals with mental illness. The dashboard is only the fourth in the nation of this kind, and second in Kansas. It’s the first in the country to feature a unique data set regarding connection to care services.

“We’re excited to showcase this information,” said Johnson County Criminal Justice Coordinator Mike Brouwer. “Although the dashboard is new, we’ve been collecting this information for a while, and it’s been used to inform decisions on how we invest resources in the county to help individuals with mental illness.”

Data collected and displayed on the new dashboard includes:

  • Percent of individuals booked into the Johnson County jail with a positive mental health screen (someone exhibiting signs of mental illness)
  • Percent of individuals booked into the Johnson County jail with a negative (individuals who are not exhibiting signs of mental illness vs. a positive mental health screen)
  • Average length of incarceration for individuals exhibiting signs of mental illness vs. individuals who are not
  • Percent of individuals with a positive mental health screen who are connected to care

The dashboard is part of the national Stepping Up Initiative – an effort of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Association of Counties and American Psychiatric Association Foundation. Johnson County is one of seven original counties in the country selected as a Stepping Up Innovator County for expertise in helping people in the criminal justice system who experience mental illness.

“The CSG Justice Center is excited to see the ongoing great work in Johnson County, one of our original Stepping Up sites and one of our earliest named Innovator sites,” said Ayesha Delaney-Brumsey, CSG Justice Center behavioral health division director. “This dashboard will allow the residents of Johnson County to track progress made in the reduction of people with serious mental illness in your justice system and efforts to improve responses to this population.”

Johnson County Mental Health Center works with jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies throughout the county. Together, they explore opportunities for alternatives to incarceration for individuals with mental illness, when appropriate, including specialized policing responses, diversion programs requiring supervised mental health treatment, specialty or problem-solving courts and mental health probation caseloads. Get a complete list of these types of programs.

“It’s such a benefit to the community, because when people are brought in, they have immediate access to services as soon as they are booked and hopefully that means we are releasing them better, not bitter,” said Sheriff Calvin Hayden. “Mental health is at crisis levels right now, so the more access and information we can offer for any person is a huge benefit for the entire community.”

National research shows those with mental illness are more likely to be booked into jail compared to the general population. The goal is to reduce these bookings in Johnson County by 5% per year until individuals with mental illness are no more likely to be booked into jail than the general population.

“We have seen the value of the Stepping Up Initiative and are pleased to be one of the first counties in the country to share this important data with our community,” said Johnson County Mental Health Center Director Tim DeWeese. “This information is critical to our continuing effort to reduce the incarceration rate of people with mental illness in our county.”

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