South Carolina Department of Mental Health

Director's Column - July 27, 2016

John H. Magill, State Director

Recent Developments and Achievements

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (DMH) strives to improve and expand its services to the citizens of our state. With your support, we continue to make great strides. This document is the second update of select examples of Agency milestones, achievements, and services for the year 2016.

  • Thanks to the support of the Governor and the General Assembly, DMH has been increasing access to community mental health services. As compared to FY2014, new cases (new/readmissions) in FY 2015 increased 3.17%. As compared to FY2015, new cases (new/readmissions) in FY16 increased 3.29%.

  • As of July 7, 2016, DMH’s innovative and award winning Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Consultation Program had provided more than 29,000 psychiatric consultations in emergency departments across South Carolina. The Program was developed to meet the critical shortage of psychiatrists in South Carolina’s underserved areas, and assist hospital emergency rooms by providing appropriate treatment to persons in a behavioral crisis, using real-time, state-of-the-art video-and-voice technology that connects DMH psychiatrists to hospital emergency departments throughout the state.

    • Built on the success of Telepsychiatry services to emergency departments, DMH has equipped its hospitals, mental health centers, and clinics to provide psychiatric treatment services to its patients via Telepsychiatry.

  • In September 2015, DMH received a major youth suicide prevention grant of $736,000 per year for five years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The award supports the SC Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative (YSPI), an intensive, community-based effort with a goal of reducing suicide among youths and young adults, aged 10 to 24, by 20% statewide by 2025.

    • YSPI has several upcoming training courses and events, which will be provided to trainers across the state for agencies including DJJ, PPP, DOC, DSS, DOE, and child serving organizations. These events/trainings include an Official Open House (September 28, 2016); the inaugural meeting of the State Coalition for Suicide Prevention, chaired by DMH State Director John H. Magill (September, 2016); the launch of the first round of Train the Trainer programs, beginning with Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, a two-day intensive, interactive and practice-dominated course designed to help clinical, non-clinical caregivers and parents recognize and review risk, and intervene to prevent the immediate risk of suicide (August, 2016), and SafeTalk training, which prepares anyone over the age of 15 to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources (August, 2016).

    • The Initiative has identified the top 6 South Carolina counties with the highest suicide rates: Colleton, Lexington, Oconee, Charleston, Newberry, Berkeley, and Marlboro (tied). In response, the YSPI has developed an Action Plan for Colleton County School District. The plan has been sent to the district office and work will begin implementing strategies in the county before the 2016-17 school year begins. Colleton County is currently the highest-risk area in the state, with the most death by suicide and attempts.

      • With funds appropriated by the SC General Assembly in FYs 14, FY15, and FY16, DMH has continued to expand school-based programs. DMH School-based Services are now available in 519 schools in 44 counties across South Carolina. With funds appropriated by the SC General Assembly in FY17, DMH seeks to expand services to 20 more schools.

        • In addition to State funds, in 2016 DMH’s School-based Services program received a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of South Carolina to further expand its services. The $1.4 Million award allowed DMH to implement school-based services in 11 elementary schools, a program called PERSIST/Carolina Cares.

  • Parcel sales of the Bull Street property have continued; additional parcel sales took place in February, 2016. The Buyer has continued to exceed – remain ahead of – the minimum payment schedule required in the Agreement.

    • An accurate accounting of the funds received to date by the Department is maintained and the proceeds are deposited in a segregated account. The Commission has authorized the agency to use the initial sale proceeds to increase additional affordable housing for patients in the community. Federal grant funding for constructing new housing units for persons with disabilities has been substantially curtailed, but DMH is pursuing opportunities to use the Bull Street sale proceeds as matching funds to partner with other entities, such as the State Housing Authority and private developers in the creation of new housing stock for DMH patients, such as new apartments.

    • With the closure of the William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute in December, 2015, all agency operations on the Bull Street campus have now ended.

    • In March, 2015 the Commission approved an Amendment to the Agreement for the sale of the Bull Street campus to provide for the addition/inclusion of the William S. Hall Institute building and grounds in the sale to Buyer. The Amendment was subsequently approved by a Circuit Court in December, 2015 and by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority (formerly Budget and Control Board) in January, 2016.

  • The Department’s Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center continues to serve those impacted by the Mother Emanuel AME Church massacre. Center staff and MUSC staff are facilitating grief groups for the families, survivors and church congregation. Center staff participated in the numerous events commemorating the one year anniversary of the shooting.  Center staff and MUSC staff will be hosting an “Exhale Day” in the near future for the family members of the victims and the survivors.  The community received a large three year grant from the Office of Victims of Crime to continue the work with the Mother Emanuel Community. Several agencies, to include but not limited to MUSC, CDMHC, the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, the City of Charleston’s Police Department, Mother Emanuel, etc. will use the funds to continue services.

    • The Center’s response to the tragedy is serving as a blueprint for other communities. For example, in a July phone conference with the White House “Data -Driven Justice Communities,” CDMHC Director Deborah Blalock discussed the process for standing up a crisis stabilization unit that is partially supported by their Sheriff’s office, and to also talk about Charleston’s already implemented mobile crisis program.

    • Blalock is also scheduled to present on the Center’s response at the 2016 National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Annual Meeting, as well as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s 2016 Block Grant Conference.

  • In late 2015, DMH received a grant of $1.8 Million per year for three years from SAMHSA, funding a new initiative, the Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals for SC (CABHI-SC). Since its inception, CABHI, whose target population is individuals who are chronically homeless and have serious mental illnesses or co-occurring disorders, including veterans, has resulted in DMH creating or expanding several new partnerships

    • Palmetto Health has begun operating a new Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team in Columbia; MIRCI is providing training on full fidelity ACT service delivery to both Palmetto Health and Greenville Mental Health Center; the VA is providing two in-kind Peer Support Recovery Specialists to ACT teams in both Columbia and Greenville; Dr. Kerry LaChance with USC School of Medicine is conducting ACT fidelity reviews; and United Way of the Midlands is serving as the CABHI program evaluator.

    • The new Palmetto Health ACT Team is fully staffed and serving clients. 6 clients have been admitted to the program, and 41 have been identified through outreach and are being engaged and assessed.

    • The South Carolina Coalition for the Homeless has expanded to an interagency council and includes representation from eight state agencies: DMH, DAODAS, Department of Corrections, Department of Education, HHS, SC Housing, DSS, and DHEC. The council meets every other month and focuses on achieving better statewide coordination among stakeholders to address homelessness and behavioral health issues.

    • Greenville Mental Health Center has hired four new grant-supported positions to expand its existing ACT-Like team to a full fidelity ACT team that will serve an additional 34 chronically homeless patients by the end of the grant.

  • In December of 2015, all patients and staff of William S. Hall (Hall), DMH’s inpatient hospital for children relocated to the new facility at Bryan Psychiatric Hospital, a move which has increased child and adolescent hospital bed capacity and improved administrative efficiency. In May of 2016, Hall held an open house, attended by the SC Mental Health Commission, mental health advocates, members of the family of Dr. William S. Hall, and other dignitaries.

  • The Joint Bond Review Committee and the State Fiscal Accountability Authority gave Phase II approval – approval of the scope of the Project and of the amount of the construction budget/funding – for a new Santee-Wateree Mental Health Center in June, 2016. Final design work for the new Center has begun. The current projection is for the design work to be completed by November, 2017; the Bid process to select a contractor is expected to be concluded by February, 2017; Construction of the new Center is currently estimated to be complete by January, 2018. The new building will allow the Center to provide children’s services and medical services under one roof, and is scheduled for completion and operation in 2017.

  • In November, DMH launched a program designed to guide members of the communities affected by the October, 2015 floods to resources that will aid in their continued recovery. Carolina United is fully funded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) with monitoring and support by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The initiative places disaster crisis counselors in affected areas, to guide citizens not only to behavioral health resources, but also legal, financial, housing, and other resources.

    • In March 2016, the Program expanded from 28 to 72 outreach workers to serve South Carolinians in the 24 counties named in the Presidential Disaster Declaration.  Carolina United staff are providing citizens the opportunity to express their feelings and concerns while also providing referrals and resources to address identified issues.

DMH is dedicated to supporting and retaining excellent staff and leadership, who are often recognized by professional and advocacy organizations and professionals in the field for their outstanding performance.

    • Three of DMH’s Nurses were recognized in April 2016 as Palmetto Gold Nurses. Algie Bryant, MSN, RN; Kevin Busby, MSN, RN; and Natasha Davis, MSN, HCM, BSN, RN were honored as Registered Nurses in our state who exemplify excellence in nursing practice and commitment to the nursing profession.

    • SC Mental Health Commission Chair Alison Y. Evans, PsyD, received the President’s Award at the 38th Annual Cross-Cultural Conference in Myrtle Beach. The Action Council for Cross-Cultural Mental Health and Human Services recognized Dr. Evans for “both her dedicated involvement with mental health advocacy in our state, as well as her work in the field of Education.”

    • In May, DMH’s Pee Dee Mental Health Center received the Johnson & Johnson-Dartmouth College 2016 National Achievement Award for its Independent Individual Placement & Supported Employment program. The Johnson & Johnson-Dartmouth Community Mental Health Program works to increase access to supported, competitive employment for adults with serious mental illnesses. Pee Dee joins the Agency’s Charleston-Dorchester and Greenville Mental Health Centers in this honor; the Centers received this prestigious award in 2008 and 2014, respectively.

    • In April 2016, DMH was recognized by Work in Progress for its support and commitment to its clients since the organization began in 1996. Work In Progress' mission is to assist people with mental illness with obtaining, retaining, and maintaining competitive employment opportunities throughout Richland and Lexington counties in South Carolina.

    • In May 2016, Mark D. Weist, PhD, Professor of Clinical-Community and School Psychology at the University of South Carolina and pre-eminent expert in school-based mental health services, expressed his appreciation to DMH’s leadership and its Child, Adolescent, and Family Services staff for its outstanding leadership in furthering efforts in the State and region to provide school-based prevention and early intervention services for students facing emotional and behavioral challenges.

    • DMH continues to provide speakers to professional organizations, civic groups, and other entities through its Speakers’ Bureau. The Bureau comprises DMH staff with expertise in many areas. In 2016, DMH has provided to 10 organizations across the state on a wide array of topics. This is in addition to State Director John H. Magill’s ongoing Public Relations Initiative; to date he has presented to more than 2,400 people at 45 Civic Organizations across South Carolina.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s mission is to support the recovery of people with mental illnesses, giving priority to adults with serious and persistent mental illness and to children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances.

  • Each of DMH’s 17 community mental health centers is accredited by CARF International, an independent, nonprofit accreditor of human service providers. In addition, Morris Village Treatment Center, the Agency’s inpatient, drug and alcohol hospital, is also accredited by CARF International.

    • In 2016, Columbia Area Mental Health Center received no recommendations, an accomplishment is achieved on only 3% of all CARF surveys.

  • DMH’s psychiatric hospitals are accredited by The Joint Commission, which aims to improve healthcare by evaluating healthcare providers and inspiring them to excel in the provision of safe, effective care of the highest quality and value.

  • Each of DMH’s four nursing homes is licensed by DHEC and certified by CMS.  Three of the four nursing homes (516 beds) serve veterans exclusively and are certified by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The Tucker Nursing Care Facilities (Roddey - General Nursing Home and Stone - Veterans Nursing Home) are nationally accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC) and represent two of only 10 Nursing homes in South Carolina with this distinction.  *There are 195 nursing homes in the State of South Carolina.

  • In addition to the multiple reviews of clinical operations DMH’s mental health centers, clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes may undergo by regulatory and accreditation bodies during any given year, DMH’s agency and administrative structure has also undergone review.

    •  In October 2015, the Legislative Audit Council issued a favorable report based on its Limited Review of Issues at the S.C. Department of Mental Health in response to the Senate Medical Affairs Oversight Subcommittee.

    • In March 2016, the Senate Medical Affairs Oversight Subcommittee issued a favorable report based on its evaluation of the Agency.

    • In early 2016, DMH underwent a 9-week engagement of agreed-upon procedures with the Office of the State Auditor – the results also appear favorable.

  • DMH has more than 700 portals by which citizens can access mental health services, including:

    • a network of 17 outpatient community mental health centers, 43 clinics, three psychiatric hospitals, one community nursing care center, and three veterans’ nursing homes;

    • more than 20 specialized clinical service sites (DMH offices that provide some type of clinical care, but do not offer a full array of services found in a center or clinic);

    • more than 20 South Carolina hospitals with Telepsychiatry services;

    • more than 140 community sites (non-DMH entities or businesses where DMH staff regularly and routinely provide clinical services), and

    • 519 school-based service program sites.

We will continue to highlight select examples of DMH’s system, programs, and achievements in future periodic updates.

For more information, please contact Tracy LaPointe at (803) 898-8582 or