SC Department of Mental Health News Release


For Immediate Release
July 10, 2002
Contact: John Hutto, Director of Communications
(803) 898-8584

DMH Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program a National Model

Columbia, SC: People who are deaf or hard of hearing are twice as likely to live with a mental illness, compared to the rest of the population. South Carolina has some of the best public mental health care options for this group, and now the rest of the country can learn from the Palmetto State's success.

In the coming month, South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) will be sharing a training document and video to help states address the needs of deaf and hard of hearing people who live with mental illnesses.

SCDMH's program is being offered through the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD). Along with the 90-page guide, state mental health departments will receive a 15-minute video produced by SCDMH and SC Educational Television called "Breaking the Barriers: Mental Health Services for the Deaf."

Some of SCDMH's suggestions in building a strong mental health program for this group include taking people's culture into account, involving the deaf community in identifying needs, increasing the education levels of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and training mental health workers in American Sign Language.

Thirty SCDMH employees serve more than 400 hard of hearing or deaf South Carolinians living with mental illnesses each year. The care is delivered in their communities, in outpatient settings, but also includes a group home in Mauldin, SC, and one for adolescent boys in Lexington, SC. In 1999, SCDMH's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program was a finalist in the "Innovations in American Government" competition at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

To learn more about the SCDMH program, call Barry Critchfield, Director of Services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing People. (803) 898-8301. The guide is located on NASMHPD's Web site:

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health has been serving the mental health needs of South Carolinians since 1821. Its 5,300 employees and 7,565 volunteers offer services from 17 community mental health centers and seven inpatient facilities statewide. (800) 763-1024.Web site:

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