SC Department of Mental Health News Release

For Immediate Release
September 20, 2001
For Immediate Release
Contact: John Hutto, Director of Communications



Mental Health Resources Available for South Carolinians

COLUMBIA, SC: In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC, many people have expressed an interest in finding services that are available to address their emotional and psychological needs.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) has a statewide network of community mental health centers staffed with mental health professionals especially trained in crisis and grief counseling. These services are available for both adults and children. Services are also available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. For the South Carolina Department of Mental Health telephone number in your community, please see the list below.

In addition, there are many excellent web sites offering information on how to cope with your feelings. Some sites even provide you with fact sheets on managing depression, dealing with anxiety, and understanding post traumatic stress issues. Please see the following list for these web sites.

If you need any further information on services that are available, you may also call the South Carolina Department of Mental Health at 1-800-763-1024.

Included at the end of this news release is counseling information prepared by the SCDMH's Division of Children, Adolescents & Their Families. Its purpose is to help parents help their children cope with disaster. Please use it as needed.


South Carolina Department of Mental Health

Community Mental Health Centers

Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health Center
Aiken, SC
Phone (8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.): 803-641-7700
After Hours: 803-648-9900

Anderson-Oconee-Pickens Mental Health Center
Anderson, SC
Phone (24 hours a day): 864-260-2220

Beckman Center for Mental Health Services
Greenwood, SC
Phone (8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.): 864-229-7120
After Hours: 800-868-2642

Berkeley Community Mental Health Center
Moncks Corner, SC
Phone (24 hours a day): 843-761-8282

Catawba Mental Health Center
Rock Hill, SC
Phone (24 hours a day): 800-252-2168

Charleston/Dorchester Community Mental Health Center
Charleston, SC
Phone (8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.): 843-727-2000
After Hours: 843-727-2118

Coastal Empire Mental Health Center
Beaufort, SC
Phone (8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.): 843-524-8899
After Hours: 800-922-7844

Columbia Area Mental Health Center
Columbia, SC
Phone (24 hours a day): 803-898-8888

Greenville Mental Health Center
Greenville, SC
Phone (8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.): 864-241-1040
After Hours: 864-467-5959

Lexington County Community Mental Health Center
Lexington, SC
Phone (24 hours a day): 803-739-8600

Orangeburg Area Mental Health Center
Orangeburg, SC
Phone (24 hours a day): 803-536-1571

Pee Dee Mental Health Center
Florence, SC
Phone (24 hours a day): 843-317-4073

Piedmont Center for Mental Health Services
Simpsonville, SC
Phone (8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.) 864-963-3421
After Hours: 864-271-8888

Santee-Wateree Community Mental Health Center
Sumter, SC
Phone (24 hours a day): 803-775-9364

Spartanburg Area Mental Health Center
Spartanburg, SC
Phone (24 hours a day): 864-585-0366

Tri-County Mental Health Center
Bennettsville, SC
Phone (8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.) 843-454-0841
After Hours: 800-334-9847

Waccamaw Center for Mental Health
Conway, SC
Phone (24 hours): 843-347-4888

National Disaster Resources On the Web

South Carolina Department of Mental Health/Clinical Information
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Medical University of South Carolina's National Crime Victims research and Treatment Center

FEMA's Bereavement Site

American Academy of Child & adolescent Psychiatry

American Psychiatric Association

American Psychological Association

CNN News Story: Discussing a National Crisis

National Organization for Victims Assistance

National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Dealing with the Emotional Consequences in the Aftermath of Terrorism (California DMH)

National Institute of Mental Health

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration Crisis Counseling

Educators for Social Responsibility (good for children and disaster)

U.S. Department of Education

Of General Interest Relating to Disaster and Trauma

Helping Families Help Their Children Cope After A Disaster

Information from Beth V. Freeman, LISW, LMSW, Program Director: School-Based Services

SC DMH: Division of Children, Adolescents & Their Families

Behaviors children may exhibit after a disaster:

  • Opposites in respect to their normal behaviors: quiet/obedient/caring to loud/noisy/ aggressive or outgoing to shy/afraid.
  • Develop nighttime fears - nightmares or bad dreams.
  • Fear the event will reoccur or occur in their community.
  • Becomes easily upset, crying and whining, irritable and moody, anxious and afraid.
  • Lose trust in adults to protect them.
  • Revert to younger behaviors such as bed wetting, thumb sucking and clingy.
  • Not want parents out of their sight and refuse to go to school or childcare.
  • Have symptoms of illness, such as headaches, vomiting or fever.
  • Worry about where they and their family will live.

What to do:

  • Talk with the children about how they are feeling and listen without judgment. Give child 10 to 15 minutes of individual time with parent several times a week to talk about what they are feeling.
  • Let the children take their time to figure things out. Don't rush them.
  • Help child learn to use words that express their feelings, such as happy, sad, angry or mad.
  • Assure children that you will be there to take care of them. Reassure them often.
  • Help child learn to trust again by keeping promises and reassuring them of your family's plans to remain safe and connected to each other. Help child know how to contact you in various areas: home, work, activities, neighbors/friends that can help, etc.
  • If you will be away for a time, tell child where you are going and plan a time to call.
  • Limit child's exposure to news reports so that they won't become anxious and over fearful.
  • Give child only information that they request and are curious about. Give facts with limited details. Try not to over inform child on events.
  • Stay together as a family as much as possible.
  • Let them have some control, such as choosing what outfit to wear or what meal to have for dinner.
  • Help children regain faith in the future by helping them develop plans for activities that will take place later - next week, next month.
  • Allow the children to grieve losses.

Activities for children/youth to ease anxiety after disaster:

  • Encourage the children to give or send pictures they have drawn or things they have written.
  • Encourage child to talk or write other family members and people they care about.
  • Encourage child to draw pictures about how they feel and their experiences.
  • Write a story about the event - what happened, feelings, and what they would do to solve the problems.
  • Playing with clay to release tension and creation of models of event.
  • For teens/youth: researching issues that they are concerned about: history of terrorism, what countries do to protect citizens from outside dangers, etc.
  • Participate in community events for coming together as a united group for prayer and mourning, tasks to help those that are hurting, making our community safe, etc.
  • Music - creating songs about the event, listening to comforting music, creating activities with musical rhythm toys to relieve stress and tension.
  • Creating poems to show their feelings and wishes for those hurting.
  • Drama - creating plays and role playing the event, how they could "be in charge" of helping themselves and others recover from the disaster.

Things to remember as you listen to your children:

  • Children need reassurance and help from adults in order to regain a sense of stability, security and predictability in the world.
  • Anger toward terrorists for harm done is natural. Parents needs to help child redirect their anger in ways that will not harm others.
  • Persistent symptoms of anxiety, fears and sadness need to be addressed through a comprehensive assessment by a professional counselor.
  • Goal of recovery: to completely experience and express feelings to avoid long-term complications, to return to routines as soon as possible and deal with grief in small amounts each day/week, to understand the events in order to create a sense of stability in the world around us and create unity.

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