Serious mental illnesses are real, biologically-based disorders that are no one’s fault. The courageous individuals we serve are part of a sobering national picture: 50% of individuals who are homeless are affected by serious mental illness, hundreds of thousands of men and women are incarcerated due to acting out when untreated, thousands of loved ones take their lives each year, 70,000 individuals are in state psychiatric hospitals, and individuals affected by serious mental illness get food from garbage cans each day.
Individuals who are seriously ill, imprisoned, impoverished, and punished by an untreated serious mental illness don't deserve to be ignored.
Step Up on Second, a 501(c)3 organization, began providing psychosocial rehabilitation and support to people affected by severe and persistent mental illness in 1984, when a woman’s deep love for a family member caused her to take action and create Step Up on Second. Searching for services and finding very few, founder Susan Dempsay had no choice but to start a center that offered the services she could not find anywhere else.
Her vision included a supportive environment with productive activities, including art therapies, supported employment training, coping skills, and service coordination. Family members accessed help through support groups that met every month. Initially, Step Up served approximately 10 individuals a day and offered a limited number of services.
What started humbly in a warehouse shell in Santa Monica is now a thriving community agency serving over 1,800 individuals affected by serious mental illness annually and provides 85 permanent supportive housing units at Step Up on Second, Step Up on Fifth, and Daniel’s Village. Today, over 100 individuals are seen daily and offer over 22 different programs address the issues of the entire individual and provide a continuum of care, all free of charge. In short, Step Up on Second offers Help, Hope and a Home.
Step Up on Second provides Help, Hope, and a Home for individuals affected by severe and persistent mental health issues, and young adults who have experienced trauma and are at risk of developing mental health issues, and their families through 3 core strategies: