Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The Federal Department of Health & Human Services announced today an award of $1,000,000 to the state of South Carolina to fund mental health services.

The million dollar award, announced today by Heath and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, comes from Affordable Care Act funding, and will support four health centers in South Carolina for the expansion or establishment of behavioral health services.

Currently there are nearly 20 health centers operating 165 locations to provide mental health services for over 315,000 South Carolina residents.

The Affordable Care Act is nationally funding 221 health centers with fiscal awards totaling $54.6 million. More than 450,000 people around the country are in need of behavioral services, substance use disorder, and mental health services.

Nationwide, health centers saw more than 1.2 million behavioral health patients in 2013, and the South Carolina health centers treated over 12,000 behavioral health patients.

HHS says the ultimate goal is to give Americans additional opportunities to access high quality care. The Affordable Care Act expanded mental health and substance use disorder benefits for approximately 60 million nationwide, including over 866,000 South Carolinians.

Health centers will use these new funds to hire additional mental health professionals, adding more services, and employing integrated models of primary care.

"These awards will further reduce the barriers that too often prevent South Carolinians from getting the help they need for mental health problems," said Secretary Burwell. "Health centers in South Carolina, with these awards, are on the front lines of better integrating mental health into primary care, and improving access to care through the Affordable Care Act."

Health Resources and Services Administration (HSRA) Administrator Mary K. Wakefield said "These (sic) Funds will enable community health centers to better meet the needs of people with mental health conditions in communities across South Carolina."

To learn more about the HRSA Community Health Center Program, visit: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html.
And to find a health center near your area, visit: http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov.

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