SC Department of Mental Health News Release

June 19, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: John Hutto, Director of Communications


SCDMH Recognized for Disaster Plan

South Carolina helps train other states in emergency preparedness

Columbia, SC: The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) is calling on South Carolina to help other states' mental health programs design and build emergency plans.

At a training June 3-4 in Washington, DC, South Carolina Department of Mental Health's Disaster Manager joined disaster experts in creating a blueprint for mental health agencies to design and implement their own emergency response systems.

SCDMH's plan was chosen as a model because of its collaborative nature, teaming mental health disaster officials with professionals from other state, federal, military and private disaster response agencies. Also, the extensive training given SCDMH disaster team members, including mock drills, was cited as a best practice.

NASMHPD's goal is to help state agencies develop statewide "all hazards" mental health response plans that will help prevent and reduce the negative consequences of natural or man made disasters, including acts of terrorism.

SCDMH cares for more than 100,000 people yearly, with about 1,500 hospitalized clients. The agency's disaster response plan is designed to move people from danger, get appropriate counseling and medication to affected areas, provide bed space for relocated people, and provide counseling teams that go to affected areas to counsel the general population.

For more information on SCDMH's disaster response plan, call Ed Spencer at (803) 898-8579.

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.

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Office of Communications
P.O. Box 485 Columbia, SC 29202
(803) 898--8581

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