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

July 10, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: John Hutto, Public and Legislative Affairs
               (803) 898-8584             

Aiken - Barnwell Mental Health Center Participates in Treatment Study

Columbia, SC – Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health Center, Aiken, SC, is participating in a forty-two month study to examine the value of eliminating work disincentives, establishing accurate mental health diagnoses, and delivering evidence-based mental health treatment and supported employment. The study will include seventy-five of the center’s Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) beneficiary clients who have a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia or an affective disorder. 

The study, which began July 1, 2006, is sponsored by the Social Security Administration and WESTAT, a research company based in Rockville, MD. In addition to the Aiken site, twenty other locales across the nation will conduct identical studies. The intended outcomes for the subjects in the study include improvement in functioning and attaining competitive employment within twenty-four months of their participation.

Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health Center was selected on the basis of its adherence to the supported employment model known as Individual Placement and Support, or IPS. Further, Aiken-Barnwell also has a successful track record in helping clients find jobs, enjoying a current employment rate of 70 percent in its IPS program. 

The Aiken-Barnwell staff is working with Dr. William Frey, associate director of Health Studies, WESTAT, and Dr. Robert Drake, vice chair for research, Department of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School, the primary investigators for this study.  

Regarding the research, Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health Center Executive Director John C. Young said, “It is an exciting opportunity and honor for our center to be selected as one of the sites for this endeavor.  We are strongly committed to helping our clients recover from mental illness and promoting employment in the process. In addition, we look forward to collecting data that will help eliminate barriers to employment for clients with psychiatric disabilities everywhere.”

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health provides outpatient services through a network of seventeen community mental health centers and numerous clinics. It also operates Harris Psychiatric Hospital in Anderson, SC, the Columbia Behavioral Health System in Columbia, SC, as well as three nursing centers, including two for veterans.