Urgent Action Needed to Address an Escalating Mental Health Crisis in Kids  | Healthiest Communities Health News | US News

The uncertainty of COVID-19, the economy and now global turmoil is putting a strain on the mental health and wellbeing of many Hawaii residents.

And many of those reaching out for help can’t get mental health care — at least not right away.

“There’s been so much trauma people have endured and now we have these unknowns,” said Kathleen Merriam at the state Department of Health Adult Mental Health Division. “The need is so great right now that it would be difficult for any provider to really meet that need.”

According to the Hawaii/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center, the state is short hundreds of mental health providers.

And many of those here aren’t taking new patients or are backlogged. Some new patients are often waiting months — putting them at increased risk.

“Anxiety and depression are, you know, the most common mental health problems and they have dangers associated with them,” said Dana Monday, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Kokua Kalihi Valley. “Certainly, I mean quality of life, relationships suffer and then you know the worst of all is that people can start to think about hurting themselves.”

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