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May 7, 2020
Contact: SCDMH Office of Public Affairs
(803) 898-8582

Awareness Day Stresses Importance of Supporting Mental Health of Our Youth, Elders

Columbia, SC — May 7 is both Children’s Mental Health Day and Older Adults Mental Health Awareness Day. SCDMH challenges South Carolinians to reach out to kids and elders and support them during these uncertain times.

“Children and adolescents have experienced a large upheaval in their normal routines because of Covid,” said SCDMH State Director Kenneth Rogers, MD. “Routines are important and can help young people feel secure. Older kids have also experienced a dramatic change in how they interact with peers, and many are also dealing with missing important life-events, like graduation or prom.”

Similarly, many senior citizens in our community have also experienced a major change, one that can too often bring feelings of isolation. “Seniors who live alone or who live in nursing care centers are likely feeling the uncertainty and anxiety we all are. But many are also faced with the inability to visit with friends and loved ones in person,” said SCDMH Chief Inpatient Services Medical Officer and Assistant Deputy Director of Long-term Care Kimberly Rudd, MD. “Depression, anxiety, and problems with alcohol and medications are issues that older adults face in common with adults of all ages, especially in light of current circumstances.”

Dr. Rogers advises: “During these times of stay-at-home orders and physical distancing, it’s important to check in with family members, friends, and neighbors and ask them how they are doing and make sure they know they have support. Physical distancing shouldn’t end interaction, so find creative ways to stay in touch – a phone call, an e-mail, a video chat, even a letter or card.”

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day“Don’t be afraid to ask your kids how they’re feeling,” said Dr. Rogers. “Young people, particularly children, may express stress, anxiety, and fear in ways that are very different from adults. They may act out, withdraw, or even exhibit physical symptoms with no other cause, like stomach aches. Parents and caregivers can take many steps to support young people, such as setting and following a daily schedule, regular exercise, good nutrition, limiting news consumption, and encouraging virtual interaction with peers.”

SCDMH challenges our communities to reach out to these groups today and every day,” said Dr. Rogers. If you or someone you know is struggling, it’s never too late to seek help. Treatment works and treatment is available. The Department of Mental Health is here to support people of all ages. Our community mental health centers remain open and are accepting new patients. Please reach out if you need us.”

To find tools, supports, and coping resources for people of all ages, visit To find the SCDMH mental health center closest to you, visit the site and click “find help”. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 1 (833) 364-CCRI (2274) to reach your local Community Crisis Response and Intervention Team.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s Agency mission is to support the recovery of people with mental illnesses, giving priority to adults with serious and persistent mental illness and children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances. The Agency serves approximately 100,000 people each year, approximately 30,000 of whom are children and adolescents. As South Carolina’s public mental health system, it provides outpatient mental health services through a network of 16 community mental health centers and associated clinics, serving all 46 counties, and psychiatric hospital services via three State hospitals, including one for substance use treatment. In addition to mental health services, the Agency provides long-term care services in one community nursing care center and three State veterans’ nursing homes.

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