Horry County committee outlines specific projects to address mental health among staff, residents

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 6:17 PM EST
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CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County Committee on Mental Health had its final meeting on Friday, and it was all about checking in on progress.

When the group formed, members presented a broad range of ideas, but now, there are specific projects in place.

“This is not over by any stretch, but I feel like we’re on the right highway,” said Randy Webster, the county’s Assistant Administrator of Public Safety. “Multi-lanes, but we’re on the right highway.”

The committee has been hard at work for almost a full year. Committee chair and Horry County Councilman Cam Crawford said he sees a lot of progress.

“The topic is kind of a large topic to take on, it’s very broad, it encompasses a lot of different things, so we had to identify exactly what we wanted to tackle and what we thought we could tackle effectively,” Crawford explained.

Members presented some solutions on Friday to city staff which included substance abuse initiatives, mental health screenings and even de-escalation techniques.

The Horry County Police Department even added a new position to its team.

“We have added a full-time 100% dedicated narcotics death investigator. This detective is going to address the challenge of substance abuse and the rise of overdose deaths,” said a representative from the department.

One topic mentioned several times was the first responders’ mental health.

Horry County Fire Rescue is working on an app to help public safety workers find support. The department has also started peer groups and therapy practices.

“If you don’t have mental health, how can you do anything? No less a job like this, that is very stressful,” said Capt. Steve Sampollo with Horry County Fire Rescue.

Committee members said they’re proud of how far the group has come, but know there is still much more work to do.

“I think the goal right now is to get these initiatives implemented so that we can more effectively tackle some of these mental health obstacles,” Crawford said.

Crawford said he believes many of the projects will be implemented in the next year.