Mental Health: Stepping Up Initiative expands across Alabama

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) is expanding its Stepping Up Initiative, which establishes effective partnerships with law enforcement, local governmental entities, elected officials, mental health and health care providers, social service providers, courts and other partners, to meet the goal of decreasing the number of persons with mental illness and substance abuse in jails and hospitals.

At this time, six community mental health centers are facilitating the program with stories of success already being seen across the state. Now the program is expanding, with the addition of five more mental health centers, as the new awardees of an ADMH grant. Currently, 15 counties in Alabama have passed the Stepping Up resolution, along with 498 counties in the nation, to work with local law enforcement, mental health providers and advocates.

Read more about Cullman County’s involvement here.

The awardees for fiscal year 2020 are:

  • AltaPointe Health
  • East Alabama Mental Health Center
  • Indian Rivers Mental Health Center
  • Mental Health Center of North Alabama Inc.
  • West Alabama Mental Health Center

“The ability to identify the particular set of needs of an individual, then connect that person with the appropriate resource, is a crucial tactic in our mission to decrease the number of people in jails and hospitals in Alabama,” said ADMH Commissioner Lynn Beshear.

Beshear continued, “A case manager at a local mental health center provides that resource and connection, and creates a link between the mental health center and other vital partners in the community.” To receive the grant, ADMH requested community mental health centers provide a plan for case management services and establish a sustainable process and plan to reduce the numbers of people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders in local jails and emergency rooms in their communities. The grant amount of $50,000 will assist the community mental health centers in fulfilling the requirements and expanding partnerships and resources to realize the mission and goals of the Stepping Up Initiative.

Beshear said, “Success stories are being told all over the state, associated with the work that is performed by dedicated Stepping Up partners. Identifying those in need, finding the right levels of care, and helping to secure housing and employment – these are tasks that our mental health centers are growing with grant funds and with the expansion of community partnerships.”

If continued progress is made and an investment by all partners is sustained, communities can benefit from:

  • Increased treatment for individuals living with mental illness
  • More efficient use of public funds
  • Less strain on jails and law enforcement
  • Increased peace of mind for families and the community
  • Healthier community members
  • Greater prosperity for the entire community