For Robin Miyamoto, a clinical psychologist in urban Honolulu County, Hawaii, the past year marked the hardest she’s ever worked.
Telehealth, which she made use of during the COVID-19 pandemic, let her still reach clients in the absence of in-person visits. But she found it difficult to draw boundaries, as she and other providers agreed to offer weekend or late-night sessions with patients in need.
On top of that, she says, she’s had more patients asking for help than ever before.
“We’re seeing much higher rates of anxiety – both COVID-related but also finance-related, employment-related,” Miyamoto says. The Hawaii Psychological Association, of which Miyamoto is a past president, saw a 60% increase in applications for pro bono care during the pandemic due to the loss of insurance, she says.
“A lot of depression, isolation,” Miyamoto adds. “And then I have a huge number of adults requesting assessments for (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) because of work from home … people are questioning their ability to stay focused and pay attention.”
When it comes to mental health, Honolulu County is the country’s top performer, according to the 2021 U.S. News Healthiest Communities rankings. The annual project assesses nearly 3,000 counties and county-equivalents across the U.S. on dozens of metrics that show and shape health and well-being, in categories ranging from equity, housing, and the economy to population health, public safety, and food and nutrition.
But the pandemic has meant significant challenges for Hawaii when it comes to mental health – ones that providers are now working to meet through comprehensive care.
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