Stepping Up Initiative meeting held in Coshocton

| April 23, 2018

COSHOCTON – Coshocton County residents are stepping up to help people in our community who battle mental illnesses and drug problems.

Mental health counselors, people from the healthcare field, court employees and elected officials were just a few of the people who attended a breakfast meeting with retired Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton and Thom Craig from Peg’s Foundation.

Stratton and Craig were in Coshocton on April 19 to discuss The Stepping Up Initiative at a breakfast meeting held at the COTC Coshocton Campus.

Stepping Up is a national initiative focused on addressing issues at the intersection of local jails, mental health and co-occurring addiction disorders, working to reduce the number of people with mental illness and a possible co-occurring substance use disorder in jails. As part of the National Stepping Up Initiative, Ohio will be a national demonstration site, with the state supporting and assisting counties in their efforts.

“We want to collaborate and find a comprehensive solution to the problem rather than spot solutions,” Craig said.

Stratton said they’ve been meeting with people in different counties to find out what their struggles are and then taking those issues back to their state steering committee.

During the meeting in Coshocton, Stratton had everyone introduce themselves and presented everyone with different ways Stepping Up can help them. Some in attendance also thanked Stratton and Craig for what they are doing.

“I’ve been in public service for over 30 years and been a funeral home director for over 40,” said Coshocton County Commissioner Gary Fischer. “I’ve seen in both how mental illness can affect families and how mental illness and drugs can be intertwined. It takes efforts like this to make a change.”

Coshocton County Commissioner Dane Shryock shared how he’s seen agencies already change in the way they work together, especial since his days as a deputy sheriff.

“Mental Health care has come a long way,” he said. “We used to just transport people to the state hospital in Cambridge and drop them off. Some of those people I would have transported are now working and productive citizens. My hat’s off to you for your advocacy.”

Shryock shared that one of the biggest roadblocks for our area in helping people is financing to provide the training, schooling and classrooms need to help people in jail.

Both Stratton and Craig said they are aware of that issue and working on funding. They already have secured $1.5 million for crisis centers in the state and $2.5 million to reimburse jails for medication. The steering committee also is looking at housing to help make sure people transitioning out of jail have a safe and supportive place to help them succeed.

For more on the Stepping Up Initiative and its upcoming fall conference, visit

Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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