Epworth has opened an Upstate counseling center to help address a critical South Carolina-wide shortage of affordable community-based mental health care services for children, teens, adults and families.
The new Epworth Upstate Center for Counseling is located at 108 Anderson Ave., Anderson, on the grounds of Trinity United Methodist Church. Staffed by licensed therapists specializing in a range of mental, behavioral and substance use concerns, it offers both individual and family counseling, group therapy, crisis services, behavioral health screenings, parenting classes and telehealth appointments.
“Epworth has provided assistance to children and families for more than 100 years, and we continue to expand in ways that allow us to serve children and families where they are —at their point of need in their communities,” said Epworth President and CEO Beth Williams.
Like Epworth’s existing Center for Counseling in Columbia that serves more than 500 clients a year, the new Upstate counseling center helps address two of the barriers that keep South Carolinians from getting the mental health care they need: local availability of services and cost.
“We know from government health data that more than 2 million South Carolinians live in communities that do not have enough licensed mental health professionals to meet demand,” Williams said. “We also know that approximately 220,000 adults in South Carolina who need mental health care do not receive it—47.2 percent because of cost. Epworth is working to change this because we see that when people who need mental health care can’t get it, the consequences for children, adults, families and society are serious, often tragic.”
Research data shows the fateful impact of inadequate mental health care in South Carolina. As many as 7 in 10 youth in our juvenile justice system have a mental health condition. About 53,000 South Carolina youth ages 12-17 have depression, and of those, more than 56 percent did not receive any care last year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Studies show that high school students with depression are more than twice as likely to drop out than their peers.
As for adults in South Carolina, 706,000—more than five times the population of Charleston—have a mental health condition, according to SAMSHA. Last year, 811 South Carolinians lost their lives to suicide, and mental health survey data estimates that 189,000 adults in South Carolina had thoughts of suicide in the past 12 months. About two in five adults in jail or prison have a history of mental illness.
Epworth’s new Upstate Center for Counseling, like its existing Center for Counseling in Columbia, make mental health care more cost-accessible to low- and middle-income South Carolinians because it accepts Medicaid in addition to other types of insurance. Both counseling centers also offer a sliding scale fee for the more than 10 percent of state residents who lack health insurance.
Williams said that a grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation made expansion of Epworth’s community counseling services possible. A previous grant from the BCBS Foundation in 2019 provided the funding to open Epworth’s Center for Counseling in the Midlands.
“We are very grateful for the continued provision and generosity of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation,” Williams said. “We’re equally grateful to the hundreds of churches and thousands of individuals who continue to enable Epworth’s lifechanging work with children and families.”
Those in the Upstate who would like to make an appointment or refer a client to the center for counseling, call 864-642-6555. If in the Midlands, call 803-667-4697.