The state’s mental health crisis line has experienced a significant increase in calls following the Maui wildfires, according to the Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Services. Since the fires on August 8, hundreds of calls have been made to the Hawaii CARES crisis line, and in-person behavioral health care has been provided across Maui. The department is currently compiling data to better understand the trends, but they anticipate that the need for mental health support will continue to grow as the community grieves.
Deputy Director Marian Tsuji emphasized that grieving is a natural reaction after experiencing profound loss, and it is not a sign of mental illness. The department is committed to providing help and support for anyone affected by this tragedy, regardless of when they reach out. People may seek support in various forms, including speaking with a grief counselor over the phone, consulting with a healthcare professional, or connecting with their team members stationed in the community.
Mental health advocates urge individuals to seek care during this unprecedented time. In-person mental health services are available at Lāhainā Comprehensive Health Center and Maui Community Mental Health Clinic in Wailuku. The Department of Health is working with community partners to support behavioral health triage efforts and develop a strategy for long-term services on Maui. Additional programs are being launched to meet the evolving behavioral health needs of the community.
Wellness Navigator teams from the Department of Health are collaborating with community health partners to provide support to displaced residents currently residing in local hotels. These teams go door-to-door with essential items and offer information about available health services. They also connect individuals who require a higher level of mental health support with community providers.
For those uncertain about where to seek help, the Suicide Crisis line at 988 and Hawaii CARES at 808-832-3100 or 1-800-753-6879 are available 24/7. The 988 crisis line now offers American Sign Language services, and individuals who are hard of hearing can video chat with an interpreter for mental health services.