SOUTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – South Carolina has received more than 38,000 calls for support over a year since the launch of the new national suicide and crisis lifeline number 988.
York County licensed social worker Heather Tidwell says her office also experienced an uptick in the need for help.
“Our consult calls and referrals probably decrease like about 30 to 35%,” said Tidwell. “This summer was unlike any summer. I’ve actually seen where we actually had an increase in referrals, in family therapy needs, and just all different types of community-based services that were needed.”
Tidwell says the boom in calls sparked the need to hire three more clinicians to service those in need immediately.
She says one thing she noticed over the last year was the lack of mental health education in young school-aged children and their families.
“Every single public school by law has to have some sort of like guidance counseling department if maybe they’re like the first people that you meet and greet and they can kind of walk you down like the hall like here’s the teacher,” she explained. “But they’re also going over, like, what are some of the services?”
Lancaster County School District Director of Student Services Lindsey Marino says those services are so crucial to the county that they’ve added over 15 more district counselors and hired outside mental health companies to serve students who need help quickly.
“A year ago, I only had two mental health counselors to serve us 15,000 kids,” Marino said. “So they were doing like the most significant, I mean, almost life-threatening mental health issues.”
The county teaches elementary school social and emotional skills called zones of regulation. Leaders hope students will carry the lessons throughout their school careers.
Marino says a guidance counselor or a therapist is provided if a student needs more attention.
“I think this year we’ll be able to really tell will see the the the outcomes of what we’ve added because we really went from like 2 to 15 or 2 to 20 and a year,” Marino said. “So I think we’ll really start seeing the benefit.”
Tidwell says the main thing individuals and families say is they don’t know where to start — so she started a resource network with information on mental health services.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.