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Free Mental Health Services Program Debuts at UH Mānoa

Date: August 22nd, 2022 in Care, Community Outreach, JABSOM News, Native Hawaiian, Native Hawaiian Health, Student Life, UH Manoa    Print or PDF

Dr. Jillian Freitas meets with a patient in her clinic.

Three in five college students nationwide reported being diagnosed with anxiety, depression or another mental-health condition by a professional, according to a Harris Poll released this year.

With that in mind, at the request of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Kualiʻi Native Hawaiian Advisory Council, the John A. Burns School of Medicine Department of Native Hawaiian Health (DNHH) established Ka Malu a Waʻahila to address the unique behavioral health needs of Native Hawaiian students.

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Ka Malu a Waʻahila logo. Courtesy photo.

The Ka Malu a Waʻahila program will provide Native Hawaiian students at UH Mānoa free access to culturally responsive behavioral health services.

Working with Chief Budget Officer, Sandy French, funding for Ka Malu a Wa’ahila was provided by Provost Michael Bruno’s office.

“This is an important service being provided to our kānaka maoli students and I commend the Waʻahila program and JABSOM, our school of medicine, for stepping up and meeting this challenge. We need to support all of our student needs so they are able to focus on their studies and this program will provide an invaluable service.”

The funding makes it possible for students to access individual therapy services, monthly kūkākūkā group support sessions, and additional tools for self-help and resiliency via the program’s website and social media platforms.

Students across the UH system also have access to the MyHealthStory2 app, a video-based digital platform designed to capture student experiences relating to mental health. The interactive app was developed in partnership with HealthTechApps, a Native Hawaiian-owned and -operated tech startup founded through the UH Mānoa Innovation Center.

Ka Malu a Waʻahila envisions an abundant, vibrant, and psychologically resilient lāhui. Its mission is to foster a safe, therapeutic space for our kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiian) students, faculty, and staff born from the acknowledgment of historical and intergenerational trauma, to cultivate healing pathways that elevate the behavioral health of the lāhui.

“Our haumāna deserve the highest quality support without having to explain the gravity of their collective historical traumas and histories,” said Dr. Jillian Freitas, program director of Ka Malu a Waʻahila.

Freitas says the mental health resources are provided by professionals who have the ability to connect with students on various levels.

“Our clinicians not only are licensed mental health professionals, but also have lived experiences as Pacific Islanders, and participate in ongoing training in providing culturally safe, responsive and reflexive behavioral health services for our kānaka maoli community. We believe in the power of recognizing historical and intergenerational trauma, but also celebrating our collective, indigenous resiliency and joy.”

The Ka Malu a Waʻahila extends gratitude to the champions and collaborators at Kūaliʻi Council, Native Hawaiian Student Services, and the Counseling and Student Development Center for creating space for the program to flourish.

This program was made possible through CARES Act funding, UH’s Division of Student Success and Provost Michael Bruno’s office.

For more information, and to join Ka Malu a Waʻahila on its journey toward collective mauli ola (a balanced state of optimal health and well-being) visit https://kwaahila.org, follow @kwaahila on Instagram, download the MyHealthStory2 app via the Apple Store, or visit the UH Welina Mānoa Resource Fair on August 22, 2022 from 3:30 to 6 pm.

By Matthew Campbell, JABSOM Communications

Dr. Jillian Freitas meets with a patient in her clinic.

Dr. Jillian Freitas meets with a patient in her clinic. Vina Cristobal photo.

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