Office of Emergency Services rolls out new RV for crisis response and community outreach


The SCDMH Office of Emergency Services is rolling out a brand-new Community Support Unit (CSU), an RV that can travel wherever help is needed throughout South Carolina.

SCDMH applied for and received a federal grant from the BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina Foundation for a three-year project called the Mental Health/Law Enforcement Alliance Project (Alliance). The initiative is designed to strengthen mental health/law enforcement collaborations and expand the reach of mental health services statewide. Alliance also supports efforts to provide proper care and preventative mental health treatment to children, adults, and families who experience trauma or traumatic events, such as domestic violence. The CSU is an integral part of Alliance, and has two primary, critical functions: crisis response and community outreach.

Alliance teams comprise SCDMH clinicians trained in trauma and crisis intervention and law enforcement officers. Teams will be able to respond to police calls involving children and/or adults experiencing trauma within 24 hours of the event. By providing immediate support and short-term evaluations, they will be able to connect those in need to their local SCDMH community mental health center for additional support resources and follow-up. Alliance Teams will use the CSU to conduct visits in homes, schools, and other areas of communities and will provide a safe, secure, and confidential space for those who have suffered adverse experiences. These visits will help team members identify those who are at high-risk for mental illness and establish case reviews, monitor progress, and coordinate follow-ups and referrals for treatment and recovery.

The CSU will help deploy clinicians to vulnerable communities more effectively by responding quickly and being able to provide trauma-sensitive care immediately following a crisis. In addition, it will promote educational tools for understanding and identifying trauma and the recovery process. It will travel statewide to any community experiencing a disaster or a crisis and will support mental health needs of all citizens and first responders. SCDMH’s three-year plan for the CSU includes developing protocols for deployment, ensuring it is properly outfitted with the tools and technology needed to perform evaluations, and ensuring availability for travel and use.

The Alliance project and the CSU would not be possible without the efforts of critical partners in South Carolina, including the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, law enforcement, and SCDMH’s community mental health centers. The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Article by: Lindsay Walker, SCDMH Office of Public Affairs