The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has opened conversations about improving behavioral health across the nation, and the importance of creating robust, communicative systems of care. In Hawaii, the state’s unique geography and cultural demographics have led to the development of a diverse network of behavioral health services. State of Reform spoke with some of the organizations offering these services about improving access to behavioral health care in the state.
In Hawaii, people experiencing mental health crises or are seeking mental health and substance use disorder services can utilize Hawaii CARES, which offers a free 24/7, statewide call center. Hawaii CARES also works with partners in the criminal justice system and homelessness sector to provide access to behavioral health services for underserved communities.
One of the barriers to behavioral health care, according to Hawaii CARES Clinical Director Dr. Leocadia Conlon, is the amount of time it may take for a person to gain admission into a substance use disorder treatment facility program. To help mitigate this problem, Hawaii CARES refers callers to a bed stabilization program, where people can stay while waiting to enter a facility. Bed stabilization programs are also available to help individuals in mental health crises avoid hospitalization.
Hawaii CARES can refer clients to services under the Department of Health by dispatching a crisis mobile outreach, where a crisis therapist will meet a client in the community and try to help them resolve the crisis in the “least restrictive setting.”
All of these programs require constant communication with different agencies around the state. Dr. Conlon explained that this communication and collaboration are necessary to maintain programs that can best serve the complex behavioral health needs of the community.
Read more at StateofReform.com.
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