An Overview of Mental Health in Charleston, South Carolina
According to the Tri-County 2016, Community Health Needs Assessment Report, mental health care services in Charleston are significantly better than those offered by the neighboring counties of Berkeley and Dorchester. Although by 2021 psychoses and other mental health disorder visits are expected to increase by approximately 4-5% in Charleston County. According to Deborah Blalock, Executive Director of Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Centre, the most common mental health conditions treated in the area are; Anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Suicide Risk, Trauma, Schizophrenia, and Schizoaffective disorders. (al, 2016)
Mental health resources in Charleston
Charleston has three psychiatric facilities; MUSC Institute of Psychiatry, Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioural Health and the Charleston Clinic. Decisions on the most appropriate course of treatment are made by the Assessment/Mobile Crisis team (AMC) who triage psychiatric needs and link patients with proper outpatient services. AMC provide face to face assessments at their Charleston Clinic, appointments can be made over the phone but are also available on a walk-in basis. Patients may then be referred on to Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Centre (CDMHC) where they will receive appointments to meet with a therapist, psychiatrist or nursing practitioner.
Ongoing support for those who are recovering from a mental illness and for friends, family members and loved ones of those struggling with or recovering from a mental illness. Support is available through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in the form of support groups, education and advocacy services.
Impact of Socioeconomic Factors on Mental Health in Charleston
There is evidence suggesting South Carolina may have problems with Health Equity. Health inequity (not to be confused with health inequality) is when an individual’s social, economic, geographic or demographic status can restrict an individual’s access to resources needed to maintain and improve their health. (World Health Organisation, 2018) In South Carolina 23% of children live in poverty compared with a national rate of 20%; Interestingly, South Carolina’s graduation rate is 80% compared to a national rate of 83%. (University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 2018). High school drop out rates and poverty are indicative of a population’s mental wellbeing. (Hjorth CF, 2016)
Natural Disasters in Charleston and their Impact on mental health.
Charleston sits on the eastern seaboard. Therefore the city is prone to hurricanes, particularly between June and November. In addition to storms and flooding Charleston typically experiences between 10-15 earthquakes a year, the highest of which was the Charleston earthquake of 1886 at a magnitude 7.3. Natural disasters are known to have a detrimental effect on mental health, in the months following Hurricane Hugo there were 25% more people seeking help for drug and alcohol abuse compared to the previous year. ( The Economist (US), 1990). Increased drug and alcohol abuse in the wake of a natural disaster is often a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. (American Addiction Centers, n.d.) Losing one’s job or being displaced from one’s home can contribute to depression, there is also evidence to suggest that incidents of domestic abuse increase in communities recovering from a disaster. (J. Brian Houston, 2017)
Divorce rates in Charleston
The most recent figures for divorce rates in Charleston, are from 2012. In Charleston, the divorce rate is 3.2 per 1000 citizens compared to a national average of 3.4. However, this figure is still significant as divorce is known to have a detrimental effect on the mental health of those affected. Divorce and separation are associated with increased anxiety, depression and alcohol abuse. (Richards, 1997) Divorce can also have a significant effect on the children of divorced or divorcing couples resulting in emotional problems and a decline in performance at school. (P. Lindsay, 1995)
The challenge of finding a suitable therapist in Charleston, SC.
Over 600 therapists are practicing in the Charleston, treating issues ranging from bereavement, substance abuse, depression, trauma, phobias, chronic illness, and couples counseling.
When suffering from a mental illness, it is essential to find the right type of therapy; equally crucial though is seeing a therapist that one can relate to and feel comfortable discussing mental health issues. E-Counseling.com simplifies this process by aggregating counselors into one easy to search list, with photographs and extended profiles. The site also lists the most critical information that people looks for such as; specialties, credentials, languages, and experience making it easier to make an informed decision about where to turn next.