COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – More than 800 public school employees across South Carolina have enrolled in the John H. Magill SC School Behavioral Health Academy (SBHA) since its launch last October.

The program was started to support students amid a youth mental health crisis and mental counselor shortage.

The SBHA is led by the school psychology faculty at the University of South Carolina and is supported by the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Through the program, teachers, coaches, school counselors, and administrators learn about the best practices to identify students’ mental health needs and provide support. Officials say employees from 68 school districts in South Carolina have taken part in the SBHA.

“The school based support can make a big difference in the lives of these teens because they spend most of their day at school,” said Donna Ewing, a research assistant and district coach.

According to program officials, ten school districts are working with SBHA coaches to implement better mental health programs in their schools.

“It’s been really impressive this type of work from school districts but also folks out in the community like the Department of Mental Health and counseling-based services,” said Dr. Samuel McQuillin, USC associate professor and School Psychology Ph.D Program director.

Officials expect enrollment to surge this summer. The program is scheduled to run through June 2024 and could be extended.

For more information on the SBHA click or tap here.