The Hawaii Department of Health’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division has received a four-year $11.8 million grant that is expected to help 2,400 children statewide.
“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic and other societal stressors will have lasting impacts on the wellness of our children and families,” said the division’s Acting Administrator, Dr. Scott Shimabukuro. “These funds offer the opportunity to use cutting-edge strategies to address this growing crisis in our state.”
The division offers free mental health services for young people ages 3 to 21 years old and provides therapy at home or in the community for emotional and behavioral health challenges.
The pandemic has affected the mental health of children across Hawaii, especially because of physical distancing requirements.
Courtesy: Keala Foundation
Funds are from the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Several partners will be involved in programming, including the Department of Human Services Social Services & Med-QUEST Divisions, Office of Youth Services, Family Court of the Judiciary, Hawaii Youth Services Network, EPIC Ohana, Child and Family Service, Kinai ‘Eha, University of Hawaii at Manoa Department of Psychology, and others.
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division reported 66% fewer applications in April 2020 compared to the same month last year. There have also been significant drops in referrals made to programs that help with early infant and toddler development. The state’s Child Welfare Services Division has also reported fewer intakes.
Since then, more families are returning to use the division’s services, said Department of Health Spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
“It seems that families have adjusted and are ready to engage health care again since the state’s shutdown,” she said.
Relative to national averages, Hawaii youth are more likely to have attempted suicide within the past year, experienced sexual or physical dating violence, as well as engaged in substance use.
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