COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said they have completed their review of mental health services offered in South Carolina public schools.

Their report shows there is a need for more mental health counselors in South Carolina schools.

Officials suggest raising salaries for counselors, give school districts to option to hire counselors from the Department of Mental Health, hire their own staff, or work with a third party to provide these services.

Director Robbie Kerr said, “We believe it’s more appropriate to put more flexibility in the schools.”

According to Director Kerr, the state needs to address this issue as soon as possible. He said right now, there is a counselor for every 1,300 students in South Carolina. There is high demand for their services as well.

“Our goal is to cut this ratio in half,” he said. It will take a few years to get this Kerr stressed.

Director Kerr says their recommendations also address balanced billing for families.

Kershaw County School District Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins says he believes these changes will improve mental health services for students. “It gives us a little more flexibility and allows us to enter into partnerships with private mental health practices and providers. Which is a good thing for us because it gives us that consistency and flexibility this program offers,” he said.

The review of the program was requested by Governor Henry McMaster earlier this year. He said addressing youth mental health is one of the most important issues in the state right now.

“These children and young people need help. If they don’t get it, we’ll see them again. It might be with DJJ, DAODAS or Department of Corrections,” McMaster said.