Stress, anxiety, uncertainty—all common psychological responses for those experiencing a disaster such as the recent wildfires on Maui.
When tragic events happen, it is important for employers to support the mental health of their employees by providing available resources and keeping morale high. Here are a few steps you can take to help support your employees.
Check-in and make sure everyone is OK
As an employer, you cannot fix or prevent the stress that arises from national disasters, but you can acknowledge it and be empathetic. As leaders, it is critical to be human, transparent, and honest.
Employees will look to your organization’s leadership for guidance on how to move forward. It’s critical that you communicate regularly to keep your employees informed and provide assurances on the path ahead. If you don’t know what the future holds, say that. Your words offer more comfort than you know.
Live aloha, show vulnerability, and be compassionate. Take a few moments to check in at the start of meetings or group chats; doing so to helps people stay positive and connected. Check with your team to see if there is anything you can do to help your employees cope with stress and protect their mental health.
Promote available resources
Remind employees of the mental health services they have available through their health insurance provider. Similarly, if your company offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), draw attention to it as an available resource. EAPs provide timely advice on tough topics, as well as referrals to online and local service providers.
Additionally, there are various available community resources for mental health support and crisis counseling for those impacted by the Maui wildfires.
Hawaii CARES 988
Local crisis counselors are available 24/7 via phone, text, or chat to connect you with resources for mental illness, substance use, suicide prevention, as well as services for children and adolescents.
Free behavioral telehealth services.
The State of Hawaii Department of Health, Maui Community Mental Health Center
Offering crisis mental health services and expanding hours to those experiencing emotional or psychological distress as a result of the Maui wildfires. To receive emergency services, contact Maui CMHC. Clinic hours are Monday through Friday, 8am – 4:30pm. Expanded clinic hours are available on Saturday and Sunday to accommodate immediate needs from 8am – 4:30pm. For after-hours support, please contact Hawaii CARES 988.
Phone: (808) 984-2150
In person at 121 Mahalani Street in Wailuku, HI
Mental Health Kokua
Focus on Unhoused Individuals with Severe Mental Illness.
Maui Behavioral Health Resources
Family and Youth Mental Health Services.
Catholic Charities Hawaii
Counseling programs for individuals, couples and families. Help line: (808) 527-4470
Child & Family Service
Comprehensive Counseling and Support Services to meet the needs of children and their families.
Mental Health America (MHA) Hawaii
MHA Hawaii promotes mental health and wellness through education, advocacy, service and access to care statewide. If you are looking for a list of agencies and programs that offer behavioral health services, please see MHA’s Finding Help Phone List (2021).
Statewide Office on Oahu: (808) 521-1846
Branch Office on Maui: (808) 242-6461
National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Hawaii
NAMI Hawaii offers educational programs and recovery supports for families affected by mental illness and anyone interested in being better informed. To join support groups, please visit https://namihawaii.org/programs-services
SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Disaster Distress Helpline – The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) is the first national hotline dedicated to providing year-round disaster crisis counseling. This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 to all residents in the U.S. and its territories who are experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Call or text 1-800-985-5990
Help your employees return to work
Following recovery efforts and once it’s safe to return, it’s good to have a plan in place that will continue to support the wellbeing of your employees. This may look different depending on the type of company you have and your company culture. Consider scheduling optional meetings where staff can share challenges they are encountering or allow flexible work hours. It’s also important to train and support supervisory staff so they’re able to lead with empathy.
Recovering from a disaster is no easy feat. For additional resources for those impacted by the Maui wildfires visit ALTRES for Maui.