Office of Wellness and Resilience Supports Coordinated Maui Mental Health Response

Posted on Oct 2, 2023 in Main


Left to Right: Tina Boteilho, Dr. Dara Rampersad, and Tia Hartstock taking a moment after providing mental health support to the West Maui community. 

By Erica Yamauchi, OWR Director of Communications & Engagement 

In the early morning after the Maui fires, Office of Wellness and Resilience (OWR) Director Tia Hartsock sent an email to a dozen colleagues within our state mental health system and on the Trauma-Informed Care Task Force, asking them to join a Zoom call at noon to discuss a coordinated mental health response to the disaster. When she and her team signed on, they were heartened to see more than 250 people had joined the meeting. 

Since then, OWR has held almost daily Maui Mental Health Coordinated Res­­­ponse meetings, totaling 400+ people, including mental health professionals on the ground on Maui, philanthropic, non­profit and advocacy organizations, service providers, and government employees. The meetings have been instrumental in standing up services, breaking down barriers, and sharing resources and lessons learned.  

In partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), Queen’s Health System (QHS), and Kaiser Permanente (KP), “talk story and support” mental health services have been made available for all ages at the West Maui hotel shelters every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This support ranges from simply listening to survivors and their stories, to resource navigation and referrals for more long-term sup­port. More than 200 mental health professionals on Maui and across the state have volunteered to provide these services to ensure those affected have Hawai‘i-informed mental health support when they need it. 

Mental health “pop-ups” are also happening around natural gathering places in West Maui, and there is also crisis mobile outreach via DOH available for those in need of urgent help via Hawai‘i CARES where you can call or text 988 to talk to local counselors. The DOH is in the process of hiring staff to expand the mental health response in a more sustainable way over the long term.
OWR is committed to serving survivors as it moves into the next stage of relief and recovery. The office is working with Hui Ho‘omalu, a group of diverse cultural practitioners who have come together with a collective commitment to uplift Maui families and communities through Native Hawaiian healing practices. At hotel shelters, they have been providing gatherings several days a week which include music, cultural and family activities, and mental health support. 

Key collaborations in the coordinated mental health response to the disaster include the DOH, Hawai‘i Psychologists Association, National Association of Social Workers, Hawai‘i Community Foundation, Kamehameha Schools,
QHS, and KP. 

OWR has put out a Public Service Announcement (PSA) with the help of Summit Media Group. The general mes­sage to the public is, that if you are not feeling like yourself right now, that’s normal. Take some time to rest, connect with a loved one, and talk about how you’re feeling, spend time in nature, or do something you have found relaxing in the past. If you need someone to talk to, or if you or someone you know is in crisis, please reach out to one of the resources listed on the right. 


Wellness and Resilience Resources  

Hawai‘i CARES 988 

Local counselors are ready to take your call or text.  

Call (808) 832-3100 or 1-800-753-6879, or call/text 988. 


Confidential, short-term professional counseling services for state employees. The services are free, up to a maximum of three sessions. For more information, visit: 

Maui Strong support for all helpers 

Online Zoom meeting room staffed by volunteers to support those in helping professions, such as health care, teaching, caregiving, etc. Offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

Direct link: (Password: 12345) 

Disaster Distress Helpline 

Free, 24/7 for crisis and emotional support at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746. Multilingual support is available. To connect directly to an agent in American Sign Language, call 1-800-985-5990 from your videophone.