State News


In South Carolina, the laws are clear if you are not related or married to the person you are trying to get mental help for you are out of luck.

As awareness grows throughout the world on mental health issues one would think that trying to get someone help would be easy, but not so. In many cases trying to get someone help is nearly impossible if you are not related or married to the person.

In South Carolina, the laws are pretty clear on this fact and nearly every agency or mental health facility will not speak with you or even accept information from you if you are not related or married to the person. Now this isn’t necessarily due to the fact they simply don’t want to be bothered. It’s more to the fact of the way they treat the privacy laws or HIPAA guidelines on privacy.

Unfortunately, this in many cases allows people who need help to slip through the cracks and be released or not even seen or diagnosed properly. Most Psychologists will ask for pertinent information on the person to properly make a full diagnosis, and in some places, they ask for the assistance of Social Workers.

These Social Workers tend to speak with only relatives who under normal circumstances would have all the information. But what if the family does not, or has not been involved in that person’s life? What if someone else had all the information that could aid the doctors to help that person? Well, sadly they would never be heard!

The Daily Counter News most recently was contacted concerning such a matter.

A young woman was taken to Richland Baptist Hospital for concerns of suicide. She was held there for 2 days to undergo a mental evaluation. The on and off again boyfriend attempted to contact someone there to give them information on this young woman, so she could get the proper care, as she had been with him the day before and attempted to flip their car as he was driving her to a hospital.

The young woman’s family had prevented this man from contacting anyone. He informed us that the two of them had lived together for 3 and half years her family was never around, and that she had attempted suicide 3 other times. He stated he still cares for this young woman deeply and feels that she needs help, but he is lost on how to get her the help.

He stated he called numerous times to Baptist and later to Richland Springs in an attempt to inform them of things he felt they needed to know. The Social Worker at Richland Springs, who he identifies as “Sidney” never called him back. He received one call back from the patient advocate and gave them the information. Only to discover that the young woman had been released by Court Order to her Aunt, whom he states is not aware of the full facts.

Again, one would think that in a situation like this Social Workers would return calls to get information on a potential suicide. However, it seems that giving information is easily denied to non-relatives of patients.

Sadly, this is not the only case such as this in South Carolina or anywhere else. Many mental health facilities and hospitals treat this issue the same way. Under the HIPAA guidelines, these facilities are prohibited from giving information to individuals who are not cleared to receive it. But nowhere does it state that receiving information can be denied.

Should State Legislators begin to clarify these issues in statutes of law? Perhaps then the individuals who need the proper mental health care can be treated more efficiently and receive proper aid.

Should PRISMA HEALTH inform its employees of the difference between giving and receiving information that may be vital to the care of a patient? These are all issues that most of us never thing about, but it is also an issue that many individuals deal with when trying to aid a friend or loved one dealing with mental health issues.

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