South Carolina Lawmakers Consider Adding Mental Health Counselors to Every School

South Carolina Lawmakers Consider Adding Mental Health Counselors to Every School

South Carolina legislators are considering using $2.2 million of their state budget to add mental health professionals to every campus by 2020.

South Carolina legislators are considering using $2.2 million of their $9 billion state budget to add mental health professionals to every school by 2020.

Schools in Horry County have counselors in schools daily, but said they need more. Counselors from Waccamaw Mental Health and Rehabilitative Behavioral Health Services (RBHS) help Horry County students deal with issues they’re facing.

RBHS has 85 staff members and offers psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. The organization works with more than 1,000 students per year.

According to RBHS co-coordinator Gretchen Smith, they could use more counselors. The American Civil Liberties Union recently reported that today’s students are experiencing record levels of depression, anxiety and trauma.

"So many pressures from social media, the achievements that some children just feel like they have to make, and the molds they feel like they have to fit in to," Smith said.

Smith said the addition of more counselors can serve as a preventative method to intervene before troubled students harm themselves or others. Adding more counselors to school campuses can serve as a school safety measure.

"You can often do more preventative work then. Perhaps helping the child de-escalate before they get to the point where they're hurting themselves or someone else," Smith said.

Last year, the district gave RBHS an additional eight counselors; this year RBHS is asking for three more positions, which would cost the district about $230,000.

Legislators are currently working on the budget.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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