Mental Health Services

Approximately 2 million times each year, people who have serious mental illnesses are admitted to jails across the nation. Nearly 15% of men and 30% of women booked into jails have a serious mental health condition. Almost three-quarters of these adults also have drug and alcohol use problems. In counties across the nation, jails now have more people with mental illnesses than in their psychiatric hospitals. Once incarcerated, individuals with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail and upon release are at a higher risk of returning to incarceration than those without these illnesses.

In 2015, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners adopted the Stepping Up Initiative, a national initiative whose goal is to achieve a measurable reduction in the number of people in jails who have mental illnesses. The CJRD has two clinical positions dedicated to providing support to individuals in the Orange County Detention Center who have mental health and substance use diagnoses.

 If you are aware of someone who is incarcerated in the Orange County Detention Center who has a mental health concern, you are welcome to contact Nancy Lappenbusch (919-245-2311) or Allison Zirkel (919-245-2034). Nancy works with the youth population, ages 16-18, and Allison works with those ages 19 and up. Services provided include the following:

  • Assessment
  • Crisis support and counseling
  • Referrals to treatment
  • Court advocacy
  • Linkage to other community supports
  • Follow up and support during the transition back to the community
  • Psychiatric referral

In addition to providing support to youth who are in custody, Nancy also provides clinical services to youth in juvenile court, truancy court, and those served by the Misdemeanor Diversion Program.  

Although jail-based mental health and substance use services are helpful to those in need, the Detention Center is not designed to serve as a treatment facility.  Individuals with these needs are best served in the community and we work to advocate for diversionary alternatives as well as for timely release from custody when safe and appropriate.  However, for those who remain incarcerated, these services are valuable and will continue to be expanded in the future. 


Referral - Criminal Case Assessment 

Referral - Youth Mental Health Liaison

Mental Health Resources