Hawaiʻi CARES (Coordinated Access Resource Entry System) is a 24/7 call center that aims to be a point of entry to behavioral health services. Hawaiʻi CARES is a partnership between the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health Behavioral Health Administration and the University of Hawaiʻi. Working with a statewide network of providers that cover every aspect of behavioral health care to include crisis services, mental health treatment, and substance use disorder treatment and recovery. 

We spoke with Dr. Leocadia Conlon, Hawaiʻi CARES Clinical Director about the stress the pandemic has had on front line workers, specifically the healthcare industry.

“Over the past year, we have been the contact point for COVID-19 inquiries and weʻve seen a huge increase in call volume. In September 2020, Hawai‘i CARES received over 11,000 calls, our highest call volume yet and previously our average was about 6,000 calls a month. Our call representatives address callers dealing with crisis, mental health, substance use, stress, depression, anxiety, COVID-19 isolation and quarantine, and more.  Our call staff are very passionate about helping our community and I think this helps keep them hopefully, knowing that they provide help to others. But the staff also look out for each other and give each other the emotional support they need when the call volume is high and the needs of our clients are heavy. In addition, we try to find little ways to show staff appreciation, and we have partnered with organizations such as Mental Health America, Hawaii who have provided training for our staff about how they can take care of themselves. A training focused on how providers and front-line works take care of their own emotional and mental health.”

You may contact Hawaiʻi CARES 24/7 at 808-832-3100. You may also visit the website at hicares.hawaii.gov for more information.