The S.C. Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) gives priority to adults, children, and their families affected by serious mental illnesses and significant emotional disorders. We are committed to eliminating stigma and promoting the philosophy of recovery, to achieving our goals in collaboration with all stakeholders, and to assuring the highest quality of culturally competent services possible.

The S.C. Department of Mental Health is comprised of:

  • 17 community-based, outpatient mental health centers, each with clinics and satellite offices, which serve all 46 counties in our state;
  • Provides services to approximately between 90,000 and 100,000 patients per year, more than 30,000 of whom are children; 
  • Operates four licensed hospitals, including one for substance abuse treatment;
  • Operates four nursing homes, including three for veterans;
  • Is one of the largest hospital systems in South Carolina, as well as one of the largest nursing home bed providers;
  • Includes operation of a Forensics program; and
  • Includes operation of a Sexually Violent Predator Treatment Program.

You can expect to be treated with respect and dignity by all staff, both administrative and clinical. Our mental health centers operate within federal, state and community ethical standards.

To make an appointment to be seen please call the clinic located in the county in which you live to schedule your initial screening appointment.  Generally at this appointment you meet with a counselor to determine appropriate treatment needs. Please feel free to ask any questions concerning treatment services when you call to set up the initial screening appointment. To locate the center nearest you go to http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/center_inpatient.htm


  • Fees for services are set by the SC Department of Mental Health.  Payment (Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, cash, check, Visa or MasterCard) is expected at the time of services.  Some clients may be eligible for reduced fees based on their financial status. Please bring financial information with you including any insurance coverage.
  • Expect to talk about yourself a lot the first appointment. This is when the counselor gets a feel for what you need, your goals, your history, etc. Depending on the results of your assessment, the counselor will do one of two things: enroll you in services with us, or refer you elsewhere if another provider might meet your needs better.
  • If you are enrolled as a client  an orientation to Center services will be usually be provided at that the time of the screening which includes an explanation and written information about the range of services available, consumer rights, crisis services (during and after hours) and cost and payment schedules.
  • You should also be aware that you may also be required to submit a urine drug test to assist with our diagnostic process.  This test will be administered at the screening appointment.
  • In some cases you may have to wait to be seen for your assessment due to emergencies. We regret any inconvenience this may cause.


    • Quality services depend on the close working relationship between your therapist, staff and yourself. As a client, you have certain responsibilities and one is to actively participate in treatment and helping to develop your plan of care with your therapist. You are also responsible for attending your treatment sessions and to cancel your appointments as soon as you know you will be unable to attend them. For a complete list of Client Rights and Responsibilities please refer to your Client Orientation Handbook.
    • One of the department’s core values is to respect the rights and dignity of our clients and to create an environment of recovery. The department defines recovery as …the process by which a person overcomes the challenges presented by a mental illness to live a life of meaning and purpose... Consistent with this value, most centers have policies that are followed regarding scheduled appointments and what happens if they are chronically missed. A recommendation may be made to close your chart. It is the policy of most centers to notify you by telephone and/or a letter that if you do not contact your therapist within two (2) weeks of receiving a phone call or letter or you fail to attend a rescheduled appointment your chart will be closed for non-participation in your treatment. If your case is closed, no more medications can be prescribed by our agency. You will receive a letter stating that your chart has been closed and no more medications will be prescribed along with appropriate referrals if continued treatment is needed.
    • You should also:
      • Ask a question(s) when you do not understand what is happening to you.
      • Let a member of the staff know when you have a problem or feel sick.
      • Take part in planning and participating in your own therapy and treatment program and provide information concerning your medical history.
      • Attend scheduled activities and keep appointments.
      • Show respect for the property and rights of others.
      • Obey the laws which apply to all citizens.
      • Be familiar with and observe the rules and policies of your center.
      • Accept responsibility for your actions.
      • Cooperate in the goal of the achieving self sufficiency in the management of your every day living.


  • You have a right to be informed of your rights.
  • You have right to be informed regarding methods of resolving possible violations of your rights.
  • You may seek advice and assistance from the Client Advocacy Program.
  • You may contact an attorney of your choice.
  • You are entitled to a safe and humane environment.
  • You have a right to as much freedom of movement as possible.  This right may be limited only when it is necessary for the protection of you, others, and the community.
  • You have the right to refuse therapy unless required by law.
  • You have a right to participate in the formulation of your treatment plan and to know the names of the staff members responsible for your care.
  • You have a right to recognized psychiatric treatment.  This right includes receiving information regarding risks, side effects, and anticipated benefits of all medication and treatment.
  • You have the right to refuse participation in any research project and to refuse non-standard psychiatric treatment.
  • You have a right to know the cost of your treatment and to know the source of any assistance available in meeting these expenses.
  • You have a right to have all information concerning your treatment kept confidential except when State law permits disclosure.]
  • You may report any suspected abuse or neglect or exploitation of patients without fear or reprisal.
  • In exercising your rights, you may not infringe on the rights of others.  You also have certain basic responsibilities and you have a right to know what is expected of you.

If you feel your rights are being violated, you should talk to your assigned center staff.  If you are unable to get the matter resolved, you may register a complaint with the local center advocate. You may also contact the Client Advocacy Program at the Department of Mental Health.

South Carolina Department of Mental Health
Client Advocacy Program
P.O. Box 485
Columbia, SC 29202
(803) 898-8569
Toll Free: 1-866-300-9330

If you have additional questions please go to the Frequently Asked Questions page on our web site. http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/faq.htm