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Grant awarded to help children's mental health in Orangeburg

The Orangeburg County Library was awarded a $10,000 grant that it plans to use to conduct on-site developmental screenings from children ages 0-5.

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. — The Orangeburg County Library received a $10,000 grant from the South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association. 

The plan is to use the funds to conduct on-site developmental screenings for children five and under starting next month.

When it comes to recognizing the signs of your child experiencing mental illness, mental health professionals in Orangeburg County say the signs could start to show before children reach the age of five. 

“Just monitoring the child, knowing what to look for during those screenings and those small little things can help us know if that child is on track to crawl, to walk, to say certain words, to recognize certain words," said Orangeburg County Library social worker Bodequia Simon. Simon says these screenings will help address signs of developmental and mental health illnesses early on.

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Other mental health professionals say often times, developmental and mental health issues in children go hand in hand. 

“A lot of times a child’s behavior is a result of their mental health issues. That’s just the way to respond," said children, adolescents, and family services director at Orangeburg Area Mental Health Services Bernita Jones.

She says for children who are diagnosed with autism or ADHD, this may show up through signs of aggression or resistance to authority.

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According to Jones, the stigma surrounding mental health sometimes has parents thinking twice about asking for help.

“That’s what we’re definitely trying to stomp out so to speak and let them know that if we do address these issues early on, we have a better chance that these children become more productive, self-sufficient citizens of society.”

For more information about resources available at the Orangeburg Area Mental Health Center, visit the South Carolina Department of Mental Health website. For more information about resources available at the Orangeburg County Library, visit their Facebook page.

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