MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — New data from South Carolina’s only mental health call center, Mental Health America of Greenville County, shows call volume increased by 57% on Saturday and 116% on Sunday — the two days after the new, national mental health hotline number launched.
“You could definitely tell there was a bump in both Saturday and Sunday,” said Kathy Eckart, the director of crisis intervention services with Mental Health America of Greenville County.
Data from Mental Health America shows that 4.89% of South Carolinians have expressed or reported thoughts of suicide in 2022.
“Mental health is just as important as our physical health,” said Thommi Lawson, a licensed professional counselor in Columbia.
That’s a reason why the 988 number was launched — to bring more awareness to mental health crises.
“It’s what we’ve been doing all these years, so we are glad that it has a bigger platform,” Eckart said.
Eckart said a common reason people call has to do with relationship issues that affected their mental health.
“A very common stressors coming right out of COVID and still dealing with that is a lot of relationship issues, whether it’s in the family or work relationships,” Eckart said.
She hoped this would break the stigma of crises always involving the police.
“We’re here to talk through what you’re dealing with so we don’t have to call the police, so we can work through the other side of things,” she said.
Lawson said it’s important to have resources for mental health crises so that police don’t have to be involved.
“The right resources will be utilized at the right time,” Lawson said. “So, police get to do police things, and deal with criminal activities, and 988 will pull resources that are trained to support folk who are going through a mental health crisis to get the kind of care and attention they need. Those folks are able to deploy mobile crisis unit, those people are trained in plain clothing to go out and provide those supports.”