The South Carolina Institute of Medicine & Public Health and the South Carolina Behavioral Health Coalition jointly release this update to a 2015 report.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (May 24, 2021) — The South Carolina Institute of Medicine & Public Health (IMPH) and the South Carolina Behavioral Health Coalition (SCBHC) are jointly releasing the South Carolina Behavioral Health 2021 Progress Report this May in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. The report is an update to the original 2015 report Hope for Tomorrow: The Collective Approach for Transforming South Carolina’s Behavioral Health Systems.

The new report is a statewide analysis of how the traditional model of providing behavioral health care is evolving and the new methods that provide effective treatment and services. It also comes at a time when nearly a fifth of South Carolinians reported living with a diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional disorder and 4.7% of South Carolinians reported suffering from a serious mental illness. This data predates the pandemic, which has exacerbated many of the existing behavioral health problems in our state. For instance, opioid overdose deaths have risen steadily since 2015 in South Carolina, only to soar by as much as 60% in the months following the COVID-19 outbreak, and the mental health crisis hotlines Lifeline, CRISISline and TEENline experienced a 20% increase in utilization in 2020 compared to the year prior. 

The good news is that state and local health leaders and advocates are focused on improving behavioral health care across the Palmetto State. The Well-Being Partnership of Greenville County, the Spartanburg County Behavioral Health Taskforce and the Healthy Tri-County initiative focus on systems-level improvements at the local level to improve access to care. Other success stories for our state include the South Carolina Mobile Crisis Program, the Opioid Emergency Response Plan, and improved access to outpatient safety net mental health services and telebehavioral health. 

The report also outlines some key opportunities for future improvement, most pressingly the development of an adequate behavioral health workforce and the creation of crisis stabilization units, but also improving everything from school mental health services to discharge planning within the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

The full report is available here.