South Carolina Department of Mental Health
2414 Bull Street, Columbia, SC 29202
News Release

For Immediate Release
October 4, 2007
Contact: Alyce C. McEachern
               Public & Legislative Affairs



South Carolina Observes Mental Illness Awareness Week and National Depression Screening Day

Columbia, SC – On October 7-13, the mental health community will commemorate Mental Illness Awareness Week.  As part of this observance, selected sites throughout South Carolina will offer free depression assessments to the public throughout this week and on National Depression Screening Day, October 11.

One in 20 Americans experience depression at some point during their lives.  In South Carolina, it is estimated that as many as 800,000 people – one in five – have a diagnosable mental illness.  With appropriate treatment, recovery is possible.  However, many of those who are suffering from symptoms will not seek help, usually because of the stigma associated with mental illness.

The U.S. Congress marks the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week each year.  Established by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), the commemoration seeks to raise awareness about mental illness and its effects on countless individuals and families.  Each year, nearly 50 million Americans will experience a mental disorder.  During this week, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, clients and advocates throughout the nation offer public information and education programs on mental illness, and spread the message mental illnesses are as important as other illnesses, treatment is available, and it works.

National Depression Screening Day, founded by The National Depression Screening Project, aims to educate the public about the signs, symptoms, treatment options and resources for this illness, which is one of the most common psychiatric disorders and one of the most treatable.

To learn more about mental illness, how to find treatment, or locate your local mental health center, call the South Carolina Department of Mental Health toll free at (800) 763-1024.  If you would like to learn more about National Depression Screening Day or find a local assessment site, visit  This Web site lists locations in South Carolina where individuals can receive a free Depression Screening.

The Department of Mental Health operates seventeen community mental health centers, four psychiatric hospitals, and three nursing care centers, including two for veterans, and last year served more than 100,000 citizens, including 33,000 children.