Star-Advertiser Column: Funding for mental health is critical during COVID-19

Arlene Yamashiro, Bryan Talisayan and Rachelle Chang write in the Star-Advertiser: "We need to focus on creating a structurally sound mental health system to address the long-lasting impacts of COVID-19 and to ensure that a comprehensive continuum of care is maintained for the health and well-being of our consumers."


Mental health service consumers have been deeply affected since the initial stay-at-home order was established. They are in need of more services and support to avoid decompensation, a decline in overall functioning that can result from a lack of access to services and intense feelings of social isolation. Those with poor coping skills have been acting out in various ways and some even relapsing in their substance use due to the lack of structure. … 

We need additional funding for programs to be able to support them as they navigate our increasingly stressful environment and for technology and bandwidth resources. As a community, we came together to “flatten the curve.” We now turn to our legislators as they enter a special session to determine our funding priorities with the hope that they will be invested in “flattening the mental health curve” as well.

Arlene Yamashiro is board president of Friends of Ko‘olau Clubhouse; Bryan Talisayan is executive director of Mental Health of America of Hawaii; Rachelle Chang is executive director of Samaritan Counseling Center Hawaii.

Read the full op-ed here.

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