FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW)– Congress released three billion dollars in relief for mental health and substance abuse programs Tuesday. $40 million will go to South Carolina.
One local counselor said organizations like his will take all the help they can get.
“We are seeing lots of increase in people who are struggling,” Clinical Mental Health Counselor Dr. David Kahn said. “In fact, the numbers for people with anxiety has gone up three times since the second quarter of 2019 and up four times for depression in that period of time.”
He attributes this increase to stress surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It exacerbated people’s already underlying anxiety or depression to the point that many more people began to feel overwhelmed by it,” Kahn said.
Kahn owns the Counseling Center of Florence. He says much of the funding will go to small community clinics.
“We are overwhelmed right now,” Kahn said. “All of my counselors have a waiting list, and many of the counselors in town have a waiting list because there are so many people who are seeking services.”
He says new patients can expect to wait two weeks before they can see a counselor.
“We’re having to sometimes pick and choose which clients we can see based on who has the most need,” Kahn said. He said the money can be used for hiring new staff or advertising to get the word out.
“Having a mental health counselor or substance abuse counselor is not something to be afraid of,” Kahn said. “That help is what is really going to make a difference in many people’s lives.” The money is part of President Biden’s relief bill. It will be distributed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.