South Carolina has seen a growth in behavioral health concerns, while its residents struggle to find appropriate services to address those concerns. Here are some of the ways that the state is working to close that gap.
Medical University is Seeking More Psychiatry Beds
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is pursuing additional psychiatric inpatient beds, with approval from the Medical University Hospital Authority Board of Trustees. According to MUSC, data show that there is a behavioral health crisis across the state, while many residents do not have access to the right services. MUSC is seeking 40 psychiatry inpatient beds at University Hospital in Charleston and 25 at the MUSC Health Florence Cedar Tower facility.
“We are jampacked in Charleston, with occupancy rates consistently at 90% or above for our inpatient beds, and in Florence, they have the least number of inpatient care beds per capita in the entire state,” says Dr. Patrick J. Cawley, MUSC Health System CEO and executive vice president for Health Affairs.
A Digital Solution Could Help Prison Inmates Beat Addiction
In the first program of its kind, the Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution, South Carolina’s main prison for women, will offer a digital tracking service to address substance abuse among inmates. Participants will use a smart device to report information, such as substance use and cravings, that counselors can use during therapy sessions. Eligible inmates will still receive the federally required therapy alongside the digital tracking option.
The software is authorized by the FDA for a 90-day treatment program, and is meant to improve abstinence and cognitive behavioral therapy participation. The program is a product of Pear Therapeutics, Inc., and is being implemented by the South Carolina Department of Corrections. The state’s Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services is funding the program.
New Referral Program Could Help Pregnant Women
Many pregnant and postpartum women struggle with mental health symptoms, but few of them receive all the care they need. MUSC is using a $7 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study a new phone-based screening program that may help.
MUSC will study this program at 12 different clinics, which will connect women to mental health professionals by text or phone. Those professionals will assess them for mental health problems and create a plan and refer them for additional care, if necessary. This program, called “Listening to Women and Pregnant and Postpartum People,” aims to study about 10,000 patients over five years.
According to Connie Guille. MUSC professor and Director of Women’s Reproductive Behavioral Health, about 20 percent of women experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and substance use disorders. This can lead to other health problems, including risks for the baby. Guille points out that most women are only asked about mental health during in-person visits, but a text-based system could make them more willing to share their concerns and get help.
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