Advocates rally for mental health improvements
March 13, 2014
An outpouring of over 100 supporters for mental health reform in the state of South Carolina occurred yesterday on the steps of the Statehouse. Mental health advocates and leaders from around the state met in the capital to advocate for solid, lasting mental health improvements. Local and state political officials showed up as well to show their support for reform. The time for change in the state of South Carolina is now.
Tyler Pearson, a member of Gateway in Greenville, an agency providing programs for those in recovery from mental illness, says he enjoys mental health rallies because they show support for those in recovery.
“It means a lot,” he said Wednesday, minutes after a rally concluded on the Statehouse steps. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Pearson was among more than 100 people, including state and local officials, mental health professionals, friends and family members of those suffering from mental illness and those in recovery who gathered to hear lawmakers and state officials talk about the importance of mental health and plans they have for improving the system.
“We are here today to challenge our leaders and to educate them on the systemic failures of our broken institutions, and to encourage them to take action,” said Paton Blough, a Greenville mental health advocate.
“We’re here to come together and realize just how bad the mental health crisis is in South Carolina, and how much we desperately need more than lip service from our leaders.”
Blough and others, including some lawmakers, said they are watching the state Department of Corrections in the wake of a judge’s 45-page order in January finding the agency had violated the constitutional rights of mentally ill prisoners in horrific ways.
Paton Blough of Rehinge also spoke at the rally, offering a compassionate and impassioned speech about the mentally ill in our country. Paton talks about his history of mental illness and how he is working for reform in South Carolina. Paton encouraged the attendees to stand up and contact their local legislatures to request that they too work towards mental health reform.