Client Advocacy Program FAQs

Why Advocacy?
Consumers of mental health services are vulnerable.  They may be poor, uninformed about their rights, inexperienced in exercising them and easily intimidated.  As a result their rights are often violated.

What are the rights of the Mentally Disabled?
The  mentally disabled have the same rights as any other citizen unless limited by a court or by law.  These rights include all civil and legal rights, privileges or benefits guaranteed by the South Carolina and US Constitutions, federal or state statutes and administrative policies.

What can Advocates Do?
Advocates inform consumers of Mental Health services about their rights, help them speak for themselves  or speak on their behalf.  Advocates assist consumers with complaints about rights and services and bring issues to officials for resolution.

What is the purpose of the SCDMH Client Advocacy Program?
The purpose of the Client Advocacy Program is (1) to prevent rights violations and advocate for the provision of quality of care in a humane environment and (2) to review, investigate and resolve rights complaints or issues.

How can rights violations be prevented?
Rights violations can be prevented by providing education and information (concerning the rights of the mentally disabled) to consumers, staff, families and the public.  Violations can also be prevented through monitoring programs for rights compliance.

How are rights complaints or issues reviewed and resolved?
An assigned advocate will interview the consumer, staff or others as necessary and review records, documents or policies. The advocate will then attempt to negotiate a satisfactory result on behalf of the consumer.

The Client Advocacy Program is located within the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.  The program has four full-time Central Office Staff and several Volunteer Advocates.   Additionally, each Mental Health Facility and Mental Health Center has Local Advocates.  Local Advocates review rights and advocacy issues within each facility or center.  When local advocates cannot resolve situations the Facility or Center Director attempts resolution.  When the Director cannot reach a resolution the issue is referred to the SCDMH Client Advocacy Office.

starIf you desire further information or assistance, the SCDMH Client Advocacy Program can be reached at:

SCDMH Client Advocacy
2414 Bull Street
PO Box 485
Columbia, SC 29202
(803) 898-8569
1-866-300-9330 Toll Free