Mental Health Care & Families

brain_mentalhealth_xsmall1-300x199This post is all about the health care in prisons and jails. We start off with another cancellation of visits at OCCC and how incarceration affects family health. Kat has been told by many incarcerated folks at other facilities in Hawai`i  that this is happening all over. We need real leadership to tackle this problem with staff.

Then a model jail diversion program in San Antonio with police trained in mental health protocols and an article about the role of jails in treating the mentally ill.

And lastly, but surely not least, Mental Health America has produced a booklet called  FINDING HELP.  Kudos to Mental  Health America – Hawai`i  and its dynamite ED Marya Grambs for producing this helpful guide. I hope everyone downloads it and keeps it on hand.


Family visits canceled again at OCCC
Star-Advertiser, August 17, 2014

“The Department of Public Safety cancelled regularly scheduled visitation to the Oahu Community Correctional Center on Sunday.

“Such cancellations have become a regular occurrence this year as the department grapples with ongoing staffing shortages at facilities on Oahu, Hawaii island, Maui and Kauai.

“Sunday marked the fifth time in the last seven weeks that visitation to OCCC was cancelled.”

Maintaining connections with loved ones is a crucial piece of an individual’s well-being. It is so shameful that this is allowed to go on.


How Incarceration Affects Family Health
The Crime Report, August, 15, 2014

“The health-related effects of having an incarcerated family member during childhood can extend well into adulthood, according to a new study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. …

“Among respondents to the survey, 6.5 percent were exposed to having a member of their household incarcerated during their childhoods. They were more likely to report both recent physical and mental health-related quality of life issues in the survey.

“Asked about overall mental health in the previous 30 days, 10 percent of the general population reported suffering “unhealthy mental days,” compared to 23 percent among those exposed to household incarceration during childhood.

“For physical ailments, 11 percent of the general population reported recent problems, compared to 15 percent among those exposed to household incarceration during childhood.

“More than one-third (36%) of respondents with exposure to household incarceration during childhood experienced other adverse experiences of childhood, including abuse, exposure to drugs and having a mentally ill household member according to the study.  About 6 percent of the general population reported similar experiences.”


Adverse childhood events: Incarceration of household members and health-related quality of life in adulthood
Annie Gjelsvik, Dora M. Dumont, Amy Nunn, David L. Rosen, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, Volume 25, Number 3, August 2014, pp. 1169-1182 | 10.1353/hpu.2014.0112


  • Background. Incarceration of a household member has been associated with adverse outcomes for child well-being.
  • Methods. We assessed the association between childhood exposure to the incarceration of a household member and adult health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in the 2009/2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System controlling for age, race/ethnicity, education, and additional adverse childhood experiences.
  • Results. Adults who lived in childhood with an incarcerated household member had higher risk of poor HRQOL compared with adults who had not (adjusted relative risk [ARR] 1.18; 95% CI 1.07, 1.31). Among Black adults the association was strongest with the physical health component of HRQOL (ARR 1.58 [95% CI 1.18, 2.12]); among White adults, the association was strongest with the mental health component of HRQOL (ARR 1.29, [95% CI 1.07–1.54]).
  • Conclusions. Living with an incarcerated household member during childhood is associated with higher risk of poor health related quality of life (HRQOL) during adulthood, suggesting that the collateral damages of incarceration for children are long-term.

Mental Health Cops Help Reweave Social Safety Net In San Antonio
Jenny Gold, NPR, August, 19, 2014

Listen to the story.

“…San Antonio and Bexar County have transformed their mental health system into a program considered a model for the rest of the nation. Today, the jails aren’t full, and the city and county have saved $50 million over the past five years. …

“The effort has focused on an idea called “smart justice” — basically, diverting people with serious mental illness out of jail and into treatment instead. …”

Wouldn’t it be great if HPD had officers like this? DPS testified that the seriously mentally ill population has risen from 16% to 24%. This doesn’t include those folks who are mentally ill, but not diagnosed as “seriously mentally ill”. There is a great jail diversion program in Hilo that is seeing success with this population, and yet the department is apparently ambivalent to it. We included this in our proposal as an alternative to building more facilities. It is so sad to see Hawai`i actually moving backwards, especially  when we know what works.


What Is The Role Of Jails In Treating The Mentally Ill?
NPR Staff, September 15, 2013

Listen to the story.

“‘In many ways, we are a hospital,’ says Hough, the psychiatrist. ‘What brought them into the system was an alleged crime, and we certainly at the Department of Mental Health are not here to judge that. But while they are here and they suffer from a mental illness, we will provide care.”

“The county says it is trying to make the best of a tough situation, but columnist Steve Lopezcalls it a crime.

“‘Yes, for some people maybe it’s better than being than on the street,’ Lopez tells NPR’s Jacki Lyden. ‘But that doesn’t mean that a jail is a therapeutic environment, and that doesn’t mean that this is good public policy, and that doesn’t mean that anyone should find this acceptable.’ ”


FINDING HELP: A Human Services Directory for the State of Hawai`i
Helping Hawai`i Live Life Well

Mental Health America of Hawai`i
1124 Fort Street Mall, Suite #205 • Honolulu, Hawai`i 96813
(Wheelchair Accessible/Elevator entrance: 67 So. Pauahi, off Bethel)
Ph: (808) 521-1846 • Fax: (808) 533-6995 • E-mail:

Mental Health America of Hawai`i – Maui County Branch
95 Mahalani Street, Suite #5 • Wailuku, HI 96793
Ph: (808) 242-6461 • Fax: (808) 242-1887 • E-mail:


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