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Department of Health expands mental health assistance in response to the ongoing pandemic

Department of Health expands mental health assistance in response to the ongoing pandemic

You probably donʻt need an expert to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on our individual and collective mental health. Even for those of us lucky enough not to be touched by the actual virus, the impact on our daily lives is stressful at best. And for many facing unemployment and financial, work or family distress, it can be devastating. Some experts predict the mental health repercussions will last long after the virus is under control.
Hawai‘i is staying ahead of the curve by ramping up counseling and an array of services to help residents experiencing anxiety, depression, panic or just feeling overwhelmed as the pandemic reaches the one-year milestone this month. Thatʻs the motivation and mission behind the Department of Health’s new program “Kū Makani—The Hawai‘i Resiliency Project.” This service  launched in January and offers dedicated crisis counseling to callers facing emotional fallout related to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also virtual events for individuals and groups of all ages as well as island-specific resources and referrals.
“It is normal to experience difficulty with adapting to the new challenges of managing work, school, family, or home due to COVID-19, to feel isolated or anxious, or to worry about meeting basic needs like having enough food or access to healthcare,” says Kathleen Merriam, Team Leader for Kū Makani. “If you or someone you love needs support, don’t be afraid to reach out.”
Kū Makani is named for the Hawaiian plant ʻaʻaliʻi kū makani—which grows well in strong winds, reflecting a spirit of resilience in challenging circumstances. The program was made possible through a partnership with CARE Hawaii, Inc. and funded by a $2 million federal government grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

To reach a trained Kū Makani counselor, just call the Hawai‘i CARES hotline during these hours:

(808) 832-3100
Neighbor Islands: Maui, Kauai & Hawaii
1 (800) 753-6879
Kū Makani crisis counseling hours:
4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Monday-Friday
9:00a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Saturday & Sunday


Please visit the Kū Makani website and social media for details about the program, services, upcoming events and island-specific resources:

For non-pandemic counseling and services, including crisis support, mental health resources and substance use treatment services, you may always call the Hawai‘i CARES hotline 24/7 at 1 (800) 753-6879 or text “ALOHA” to 741741.

Learn More About Kū Makani FREE Mental Health Resources


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