COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — State mental health officials announced they have launched an online, interactive mental health screener for South Carolinians under the age of 18.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) and the South Carolina Department of Children’s Advocacy (SCDCA) have partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention worked together to establish Hope Connects SC Kids.

Officials said the tool is similar to the Hope Connects You adult screener introduced in 2020 by SCDMH and the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.

This safe and convenient free service allows parents and guardians to anonymously take
a self-check questionnaire on behalf of their child and connect with a caring professional, who will provide guidance, support, and resources to help them access mental and behavioral health services for youth.

“If your child is feeling overwhelmed, overly stressed, anxious, or depressed and you don’t know where to turn, we’re here to help,” said SCDMH Suicide Prevention Program Director Jessica Barnes. “With this safe and easy service, we can navigate these challenges and ensure the well-being of our children together. You don’t have to face these challenges alone; we’re here
for you.”

State Child Advocate and Department of Children’s Advocacy Director Amanda Whittle shared, “We are excited that South Carolina is the first state in the country to launch this type of online screener which is focused on children’s mental and behavioral health. Our team works closely with other agencies to improve outcomes for children, and we are excited about this
unique opportunity to partner with SCDMH to increase access to resources for children and families.”

This service is not for crises or emergencies. SCDMH urges anyone experiencing in crisis or contemplating suicide to call or text 988, call SCDMH’s 24/7/365 Mobile Crisis line at (833) 364-2274, or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting Hope4SC to 741741.