New Spartanburg Co. program brings listening ear to mentally ill

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A big grant is helping to bring a listening ear to the mentally ill in Spartanburg County.

Jane Clemmer has been working with the mentally ill at New Day Clubhouse for over 27 years.

“I love reaching out for individuals,” said Clemmer, who serves as Executive Director. “Schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, things like that,” she said. She said members at the Spartanburg non-profit depend on support and are among those to benefit from a program called the Reassurance Line.

“72,000 people in Spartanburg County need some type of behavioral health service but only one in 6 are able to access it,” said Heather Witt of United Way of the Piedmont. “We’ve looked at a lot of different ways to and different programs to bring into our community to ensure people with mental illness can be more stabilized.”

United Way of the Piedmont is getting a $90,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC Foundation to implement the Greenville based program.

“Maybe it’s to remind them to take their medicines on certain times,” said Clemmer.

The daily calls are from peer specialists, who are available 24-7, having also been in their shoes.

“That would know what it’s like to have schizophrenia, major depression, or anxiety so they can kind of empathize with the individual,” said Clemmer.

These calls, they say, can also help in a state of crisis.

“Maybe they harm themselves, maybe they need to go to the emergency center, perhaps they are the person on the street who’s acting out so then they end up at the detention center,” said Witt.

New Day Clubhouse will refer the most people for the Reassurance Line where Clemmer says a phone call can mean everything.

“Just that friendship kind of call that makes them know that somebody out there cares,” she said.

It’s something they also hope cuts down on trips to hospitals.

“The hope is that when we bring these services to Spartanburg county, people will be getting different types of care in different ways that’ll keep them from going through doors,” said Witt.

This is part of a bigger effort by the Spartanburg County Behavioral Health Task Force, now in its 4th year. The Reassurance Line will serve 60 new patients in its first year, but may expand to Cherokee and Union counties.

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