HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The pandemic has increased demand for behavioral health services, but a lack of resources is making matters worse, experts and families say.
Eileen Lau-James takes care of her husband Clayton, who has a serious mental illness. His last psychotic episode happened last week on a family outing.
“We camped on the North Shore and he was scary, he screamed,” Lau-James said.
She said she successfully applied for her husband’s admission to hospital, but they encountered a problem. “He was taken to the emergency room at Queen’s Medical Center,” said Lau-James.
“There weren’t enough inpatient psychiatric beds, there wasn’t an open bed on the island.”
Lau-James said they had to wait two days in the emergency room for a bed to open.
A spokesman for the Queen’s health system says there are 33 adult beds for mental health care, adding that it is very busy.
“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, it has been even more difficult to get hospitalized for your mentally ill family members who pose a threat to your family and society,” said Lau James.
Lau-James is a member of the Hawaii State Council for Mental Health.
She continues to advocate prioritizing mental health care resources.
“When your loved one gets sick, you have to drop everyone to make sure you can get everything done and take care of everything that needs to be done, and so it is a huge burden,” said Lau-James. “It starts with a lack of psychiatric care, COVID-19 has made it worse, the episodes increased.”
The psychologist Richard Ries works with people who suffer from trauma and suicidal ideation.
He agrees with Lau-James.
“There should be more psychotherapy that gives someone the feeling that a person is there to meet them in a time of desperation,” said Ries.
Ries says prioritizing mental health care would benefit society as a whole.
“We will have a lot less crime, a lot less violence, a lot of substance abuse and a lot less child neglect,” said Ries.
Lau-James added, “It has this exponential balloon effect that everyone starts to see. It becomes very obvious that we are in a crisis. “
If you need assistance, call the Hawaii Cares Line at 808-832-3100.
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