COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – State leaders on Wednesday provided an update on the progress made in enhancing the availability of mental health services at South Carolina schools.

Governor Henry McMaster and the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Director Robby Kerr saw a 65% increase made in school-based mental counselors in the last year.

“South Carolina has made remarkable progress over the last year enhancing student access to mental health services,” said Governor McMaster. “However, our work is not done. We will continue to prioritize professional mental health counseling services for our students and look forward to seeing even more progress made in the coming years.

The improvements come after McMaster requested a review of mental health services offered at schools in the state in his 2022 State of the State address.

Efforts from the state, including a SCDHHS-led initiative, produced the following:

  • The mental health counselor-to-student ratio shrunk from 1:1,300 reported in 2022 to 1:829 as of 2023
  • The number of mental health counselors at SC schools grew from approximately 600 to 995 – a 65% increase in the last year
  • 118 schools were provided access to mental health counselors
  • The number of school districts having access to mental health counselors grew from 35 to 42
  • Nine school districts that formerly did not have access to mental health services, now have access in 2023

Director Kerr described the improvements as a “testament to the collaborative approach” developed with SC school districts, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, and the private sector.

More details on SCDHHS’ school-based mental health initiative can be found here.