Free online mental health screening tool available to S.C. residents

Free online mental health screening tool available to S.C. residents
Officials with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health said they know how challenging times can be and they want people to know that they are not alone. (Source: Pexels/Generic)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health said they know how challenging times can be and they want people to know that they are not alone.

The department says people can get overwhelmed with where to turn for support if they might be struggling with family pressures, financial concerns, stress, work and relationship issues, substance use and more.

The state department of mental health is providing a self-check questionnaire that will connect you with a professional counselor in the State of South Carolina instead of computer-generated feedback. The counselor will provide guidance and resources to help connect people with mental health or addiction services.

The free Interactive Screening Program is in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It takes about 10 minutes to complete.

South Carolina is the only state that is providing this service statewide for residents who are 18 years of age or older. People will remain anonymous unless they choose to share who they are.

The department’s program director for the Office of Suicide Prevention, Jennifer Butler, says this screener is for everyone.

“It’s important to understand which populations may be at higher risk for anxiety and depression or things like that, but the truth is we’re all at risk,” Bulter said. “We’re all vulnerable to having those days we might be overwhelmed by the darkness where it overwhelms our ability to cope.”

Participants can also exchange messages with the counselor, ask questions, get feedback and support.

“Maybe 2020 has brought symptoms to you that you’ve never experienced before in your life, it’s a chance to reach out, have that connection and that hope," Butler said.

Bulter says they want to reach people who aren’t in care in addition to helping others find the right care for their needs.

She says most people who die by suicide in South Carolina and across the nation have not “touched the mental health system.” She says the majority of veterans who die by suicide are not touching the VA system as well.

“We need to be able to reach those people who are feeling alone, who are feeling overwhelmed who may not know there are resources available to them,” Butler said.

The Community Outreach Coordinator, Kelly Troyer, for the National Alliance on Mental Illness knows the difference seeking help can make.

“NAMI is important to me because it saved my life,” Troyer said.

Now she’s helping others through the organization that helped her.

“That’s one of the big things that NAMI tries to do is to tear down that stigma,” Troyer said. “That it’s not a choice and that you’re not a bad person that you have a mental health condition and it doesn’t mean that you’re not intelligent which is also a misconception.”

You can take the Interactive Screening Program questionnaire here.

For more information about the South Carolina Department of Mental Health and other resources click here.

There are also resources available through the Charleston Area National Alliance on Mental Illness. Troyer says it’s the largest grassroots organization for mental health in the U.S. They provide support groups, education and advocacy.

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