State’s crisis hotline sees surge in calls in wake of Maui wildfires

In the first month alone, DOH said it has fielded hundreds of calls to the Hawaii CARES crisis...
In the first month alone, DOH said it has fielded hundreds of calls to the Hawaii CARES crisis line and facilitated in-person behavioral health across Maui.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 11:31 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 11, 2023 at 2:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state’s mental health crisis line has been a significant increase in calls in the aftermath of the Maui wildfires, according to the state Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Services.

HNN asked DOH how many people have sought out mental health care either in-person or by calling 988 since the Aug. 8 fires.

Behavioral Health Deputy Director Marian Tsuji said in the first month alone, the department has fielded hundreds of calls to the Hawaii CARES crisis line and facilitated in-person behavioral health across Maui.

She says the health department is still compiling data and should have a better sense of trends in the coming month.

“We know that needs have increased,” Tsuji added. “We expect behavioral health needs to continue to grow as the community grieves.”

In a statement, Tsuji said in part:

Grieving is a natural and understandable reaction when an individual, and in this case an entire community, experiences a profound loss. It is important to know that these emotions are not a sign of mental illness and that there is help available for everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. People may also reach out at different times—there is no timeline to the grief felt by our community, and we will be here for our community regardless of when an individual needs support.

If you wish to speak with a grief counselor by telephone, sit down with a healthcare professional, or simply wish to make a connection with one of our team members stationed out in the community, we are here for you.

Mental health advocates are hoping more people will seek out care especially during this unprecedent time.

Watch our HNN SPECIAL: Ending the Silence

For those in need of mental health services on Maui, in-person services are available at:

Lahaina Comprehensive Health Center

  • Akoakoa Place (just below Lāhainā Civic Center)
  • Open 7 days a week, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • For information, call 833-833-3431 or 808-586-4468 (Monday to Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Maui Community Mental Health Clinic in Wailuku

  • 121 Mahalani Street
  • Open Monday to Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • For information, call 808-984-2150 or via email at

DOH said it is working with community partners to support initial behavioral health triage efforts and outline a strategy to provide mid to long-term behavioral health services on Maui, including launching a Wellness Navigator program for impacted residents currently residing at local hotels.

They say the wellness navigators will go door-to-door with carts filled with snacks, drinks, toiletries, toys for children and other donated items for the displaced residents.

While they are making their rounds, they will also offer information about available health services and connect individuals who may need a higher level of mental health support with community providers.

If an individual is unsure of where to turn, they can call or text the Suicide Crisis line at 988 or contact Hawaii CARES at 808-832-3100 or 1-800-753-6879. Hawaii CARES is available 24/7.

The 988 crisis line now includes American Sign Language services. Those who are hard of hearing can video chat with an interpreter for mental health services.

You can also find a comprehensive list of resources for individuals, families and helpers by clicking here.