Behavioral Health Access Priority Area
Increase the penetration rate of services for citizens with behavioral health conditions to 20% from 15.9%. (Penetration rate is the extent to which people who need behavioral health services are reached.)
In 2011, a total of 7,727 Spartanburg County residents were served by the South Carolina Department of Mental Health and the Spartanburg Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (SADAC) - a small percentage of those estimated to be in need of behavioral health services.
For several years, local subject matter experts have identified lack of sufficient behavioral health care as being one of the critical public health issues in Spartanburg County. Based on county population estimates (2011) and SAMHSA’s South Carolina prevalence estimate, it can be concluded that 41,072 residents of Spartanburg County had a diagnosable mental illness in the last 12 months. Using the Center for Disease Control and National Institute of Mental Health estimates, we can conclude that 54,386 Spartanburg County adults have a mental illness. Further, we can very generally expect that between 16,316 and 18,581 residents have an alcohol use disorder, and between 5,439 and 6,194 residents have an illicit drug use disorder. It is unclear how many residents have a co-occurring disorder as that figure is not captured in these estimates.
What is being done?
There is a very active Behavioral Health Task Force that was initiated in 2012 to address this crisis in care. Successes include providing mental health services to those jailed because of psychiatric issues that result in behavior problems. The task force is working to implement telepsychiatry programs and has rallied providers who are retired to provide services as volunteers. Widespread trainings are provided to laypeople in SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment), as we see this as a wider community problem.
In addition, there is now a Mental Health America office in Spartanburg to advocate, educate and serve the community’s behavioral health needs.
Is there an example of success?
The Adjuncts, a volunteer group of retired professionals with backgrounds in social work or counseling, are participating in a pilot program with residents of Archibald Rutledge, a Spartanburg Housing Authority high-rise which houses seniors and disabled seniors, including seniors who have mental health challenges.
Recruited through the task force, the Adjuncts were engaged to develop one-on-one mentoring relationships with individuals who are at risk for behavioral or health issues. Using art, music and pet therapy and other programming during twice-monthly visits, the Adjuncts work to build a long-term relationships with and support systems for at-risk residents, and to help identify those who might need more care, or those who could do well in a group setting. The goals include a reduction of emergency visits and costs—an improvement over 2012 statistics that showed 9,456 emergency room visits directly correlated to behavioral health with a cost of nearly $42 million for Spartanburg Regional Medical Center.
An early success already has made a difference in a deaf resident's life. Isolated by his handicap, the resident never participated in group activities, and rarely left his apartment. An Adjunct reached out to him, and was able to communicate with him with sign language. He was delighted, and joined the Adjuncts and residents for a group activity for the first time.