COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – The South Carolina Department of Mental Health was awarded a multi-million dollar grant to increase their Mobile Crisis program in some high need counties.

Officials said the award of $750,000 annually for four years from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will allow SCDMH to expand its existing Mobile Crisis program. They’ll be able to add certified peer support specialists to co-respond with master-level clinicians to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and provide follow-up.

“It’s been shown that collaboration with someone who is a peer increases their engagement and willingness to engage in treatment and follow up with treatment,” said Mobile Crisis Program Manager Stacee Rowell.

Rowell said the hope is the person going through the crisis will be connected to the services they need with help from someone who understands, often firsthand, what that individual is going through.

SCDMH is planning to expand the services in these ten counties:

  • Abbeville
  • Aiken
  • Anderson
  • Chesterfield
  • Edgefield
  • Greenwood
  • Laurens
  • McCormick
  • Newberry
  • Saluda

Rowell said South Carolinians in these areas may face obstacles with trying to get services. “Transportation is a barrier. They may not have a vehicle or public transportation or isn’t available for them.”

These are also areas that have shown high need. Rowell said, for example, Chesterfield County is experiencing a high suicide rate.

Mobile Crisis provides a statewide capacity for on-site, emergency, psychiatric screening and assessment.

The goal is to provide access and link those experiencing psychiatric crises to appropriate levels of care, reduce hospitalizations, and incarcerations.

According to officials, at least one law enforcement agency in each of the ten counties will receive funding for tablets and data service plans to facilitate using telehealth services with Mobile Crisis. Rowell said this will increase law enforcement’s options for including mental health professionals as they respond to incidents with mental health components.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis – you can call SCDMH’s Mobile Crisis hotline at 833-364-2274. The program is available 24/7/365 in all 46 counties.