Nonprofit to end critical case management for mentally ill

Nonprofit to end critical case management for mentally ill

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - When you think about Helping Hands Hawaii, their Community Clearinghouse in Kalihi may come to mind.

But providing for struggling families is just part of what they do.

For nearly two decades, the non-profit has also been helping to move people with severe mental illness off the streets ― and working to keep them on track.

But come Nov. 29, the case management program geared toward that population is ending.

Susan Furuta, head of Helping Hands Hawaii, said despite years of trying to make the numbers work the non-profit isn’t bringing in enough money to keep the program afloat.

“It’s just very disappointing,” she said.

Helping Hands Hawaii’s Community-Based Case Management program helps more than 160 people suffering from severe mental illness.

“It’s a population that’s often misunderstood. They struggle with the day-to-day basics,” said Furuta.

“Our case managers are in the community where they are. Whether they’re homeless or in shelters or they’re incarcerated.”

Helping Hands is also shutting down its clinic, where patients could see a psychiatrist and get their medications. Furuta said the nonprofit isn’t ending the programs because of funding cuts.

But the money coming in was no longer enough to cover the program’s rising costs.

“Being a non-profit is always tricky to be able to support the needs of the community,” said Furuta.

“We do rely on donations. We do rely on government support to really try and help out as many people as we can.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green found out about the closure Friday.

“It definitely feels like every time we go three steps forward we fall two steps back," Green said, adding added these kind of programs are a critical part of Hawaii’s health care system.

“We actually need more social workers. More case managers than ever before,” he said.

“The people who are getting services from Helping Hands Hawaii have more need that most people. We don’t want them suffering, struggling, not knowing where to go."

For now, Helping Hands Hawaii is in the process of finding its clients new case managers from other agencies.

Furuta said if the non-profit’s financials improve, helping the mentally ill is something its committed to.

“Maybe one day we’ll be able to revisit this,” she said.

No other Helping Hands Hawaii programs will be affected by the closure of its case management program.

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