SC Department of Mental Health News Release


October 22, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact:           Louise K. Johnson, Director
                        Division of Children, Adolescents and Their Families
                        Principal Investigator
                        (803) 898-8350

South Carolina Department of Mental Health Receives $3.7 Million Grant
for Children with Serious Emotional Problems

Columbia, SC -- The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) has received a $3.7 million grant to develop crisis and respite services for children with serious emotional problems.  Funding of about $750,000 a year for five years has been awarded by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grant funds will be used to develop crisis/respite services for children who otherwise would be at risk of out-of- home placement.  This project, entitled OASIS (Offering Assistance, Stability and Intensive Support for families) will focus on helping young people stay at home, in school and out of trouble.

There is a growing need in South Carolina for crisis/respite services for families who are taking care of a child with serious mental and behavioral problems. Frequently, families are burdened with tremendous emotional, social and financial strain as they struggle to provide the care their child needs.   According to a 2001 report by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, many families with children in crisis end up in the emergency room where they remain until a bed opens up in the psychiatric ward.

The OASIS project is designed to develop community-based planned or emergency short term relief to family caregivers.  This project will recruit, train and credential crisis/respite providers and will develop reimbursement mechanisms for crisis/respite care.  In addition, the project will connect children with a primary care physician when needed and develop cross training opportunities for mental health and primary health care providers.

Long-term program goals for children and families include:

  •  Improved mental health status;

  • Reduced caregiver stress;

  •  Improved family functioning;

  • Reduced emergency room visits;

  • Reduced acute hospitalization;

  • Reduced inpatient stays;

  • Reduced child welfare placement;

  • Reduced juvenile justice placement;

  • Increased enrollment at medical homes; and

  • Increased satisfaction with crisis/respite services.

The overall goal of OASIS Family Affiliates is to develop a statewide system of crisis/respite services to care for children and adolescents who have a serious emotional disturbance, substance abuse disorder, and/or co-occurring disorders.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health is an integrated system of care offering an array of programs and services to meet the behavioral health needs of adults, children and adolescents, and their families. The SCDMH operates seventeen community mental health centers around the state as well as two psychiatric hospitals and two nursing homes.


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