Increasing Access to Mental Health Care Across Hawaii – Shield Smart

HONOLULU — Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has awarded grants totaling $1,491,882 to two local nonprofits and one public university to expand behavioral health care services for the homeless on Hawaii Island and accelerate mental health professional training and licensure throughout the state. HOPE Services Hawaii received a $75,000 grant award, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing received a $1,176,882 grant award, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health received a $350,000 grant award.

HOPE Services Hawaii received $75,000 for its clinical behavioral health program aimed at expanding behavioral health care for people experiencing homelessness on Hawaii Island. The program is designed to improve access to mental health and substance abuse services by reducing transportation barriers and increasing the availability of medical respite beds. Funds will be used to acquire a designated vehicle for patient transportation, support facility improvements at new medical respite bed sites and provide necessary supplies and equipment, improving access, and enhancing the overall delivery of behavioral health services.

National Council for Mental Wellbeing will use its grant funding of $1,176,882 to further its mental health workforce accelerator programs aimed at addressing the mental health professional workforce shortage in Hawaii, especially in rural and underserved communities. The programs will support pathways into licensed master’s level mental health professions through initiatives that include employment, stipends, supervision and licensure assistance for pre- and post-master’s associates placed into community provider settings. Funding will also help facilitate the strategic planning necessary to fill 100% of candidate placement spots to ensure selection reflects the increasingly diverse population and helps increase the number of patients served throughout the state.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health received $350,000 to support the clinical licensure of 20 individuals across Hawaii. The goal of this program is to help increase the number of qualified mental health professionals available to the community while also improving diversity, equity and inclusion in patient-facing mental health positions. The program will focus on recruiting pre-licensed post-master’s candidates while working with 10 to 20 social services agencies to hire, supervise and support these candidates until they obtain their clinical licenses. The grant funds will provide supportive services, tools and stipend support intended to remove barriers that candidates may encounter on their path toward licensure.

“We are grateful to work with exceptional local partners to extend care beyond our clinic and hospital walls to meet the mental health needs of the greater Hawaii community,” said Ed Chan, MHA, RD, FACHE, president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan & Hospitals, Hawaii market.  “It is also our priority to invest in programs that will help grow our workforce of mental health providers across our state.”

Kaiser Permanente is working to improve the conditions for health in the communities it serves. These grants are the latest in a series of contributions from Kaiser Permanente Hawaii to help residents throughout the state receive vital support services that impact their overall health. In 2023, Kaiser Permanente dedicated over $3.1 million through community grants and scholarships to improve health and wellness in Hawaii.

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