Office of the Director
2414 Bull Street/P.O. Box 485
Columbia, SC 29202
Information: (803) 898-8581
Stephen M. Soltys, M.D State Director of Mental Health.
SERVICES FOR TRAUMA SURVIVORS IN SOUTH CAROLINA
In June 1998 the National Association of Consumer/Survivor Mental Health Administrators wrote a position paper which spoke eloquently of the need for enhanced services for trauma survivors. In December 1998 the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) released a Position Statement emphasizing their organization's concern about public mental health service delivery to survivors of trauma.
As the Director of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health and the Chair of the South Carolina Mental Health Commission, we would like to take this opportunity to underscore NASMHPD's belief that "...responding to the behavioral health care needs of women, men, and children who have experienced the victimization of trauma is crucial to their treatment and recovery."
Twenty-five percent of females and twenty percent of males in the United States report that they were sexually abused children. Studies indicate that forty to eighty percent of adults who are in psychiatric hospital, ninety-two percent of homeless women, and eighty-one percent of poor women have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44. Physical abuse of children is a major problem in this country. We see on television the all too familiar incidents of lethal violence in our school systems. In South Carolina we have first-hand knowledge of the trauma caused by natural disasters, hate crimes, and violence in schools and businesses.
Our commitment to addressing these important issues led us wholeheartedly to approve the inclusion of trauma in the theme of the Agency Wide Meeting in March 1999 and continue that in the September 1999 meeting. A committee of Mental Health Center Directors and their Consumer Affairs Coordinators began the initial work of determining the current status of the agency's efforts in assessing and treating trauma. Dr. David A. Rosin, Deputy Director of Clinical Services, will coordinate a state-wide work group in developing a multi-year plan that will bring the issue of trauma to the forefront of the Department's planning and developing process. Dr. Rosin will be seeking input from consumers, mental health center directors, inpatient facility directors, consumer affairs coordinators, clinicians, physicians, and advocacy organizations.
Through this position statement, we wish to affirm our desire to have the South Carolina Department of Mental Health become a national leader in the area of trauma. We envision a state-wide trauma initiative that will include a planning process which involves all stakeholders, particularly consumers; assessment tools which will fully address trauma histories of all consumers; treatment protocols/programs that are state-of-the-art; consultation, education and support for staff to facilitate the provision of the best possible treatment; and policy development and implementation that demonstrate the Department of Mental Health's recognition of the effects of traumatization (and retraumatization caused by practices that re-create the traumatizing event). We see the Department of Mental Health reaching out to consumers, family members, advocates, mental health professionals, social and public service agencies, and the community at-large to invite them to work with us to create a system that is a national leader in the issue of emotional trauma.
We strongly encourage all employees of the Department of Mental Health to become involved in this exciting and timely issue.
Date: September 7, 1999