SC Department of Mental Health News Release

March 26, 2002
For Immediate Release

Contact: John Hutto, Director of Communications
(803) 898-8581


SCDMH Delivers Nation's Largest School-Based
 Mental Health Program

90% Success Rate Leads National Average for Behavioral Modification

Columbia, SC:  One-third of South Carolina's middle and high schools have a special faculty member on board -- a mental health counselor from the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.

These professionals served 12,024 students last year, meeting young people at the place they work and play -- the school yard. This proactive approach lets SCDMH personnel build "care teams" around the students they serve, bringing teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, principals and parents on board to help young people with mental and emotional disorders.

Such care keeps troubled students in school and in their homes, as well as out of the principal's office and out of more restrictive care settings like the criminal justice system. National statistics indicate that most school-based programs achieve only a 60% success rate with such goals.

SCDMH's School-Based programs have a 90% success rate in these same areas. Specifically, the following behavioral outcomes have been reached, collected from data of more than 1,000 young people in School-Based care in 1999:

-93% remained in school
-99% had no contact with the criminal justice system
-92% remained with their families
-56% achieved reduced discipline referrals.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health has been a leader in providing mental health care to this state's youth. School-Based Services began in 1993 with two schools, but quickly grew in response to requests of administrations and communities. Working with grants and local organizations, the School-Based programs operate full time on 2-3 year startup plans, building the capacity to continue beyond the initial funding stream.

One year ago, Surgeon General David Satcher reported that U.S. children's mental health needs were not being met, calling the situation a "crisis." He reported that one in ten U.S. children suffer from a mental illness severe enough to impair development. In South Carolina, about 96,000 children fall in that category.

Without the type of care School-Based Services provide, many of these young people won't finish their education. For example, a high school of 1,500 students can expect to have 195 students with serious emotional and drug problems, of which a majority will not receive help, and about 76 will not graduate.

In response to budget cuts, 57 South Carolina schools lost mental health programs last year, but SCDMH is actively seeking grant funding to recruit and retain professionals and keep these programs available.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health has been serving the mental health needs of South Carolinians since 1821. Its 5,700 employees and 7,800 volunteers offer services from 17 community mental health centers and seven inpatient facilities statewide. (800) 763-1024. Website:

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

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