The Fire That Still Burns: The Mental Health Crisis Unfolding Among Maui’s Children

From The Guardian comes this story by Claire Wang on kids and parents coping with trauma, lack of permanent housing, and other issues affecting their mental and emotional wellbeing: 

“When the destructive summer blaze swept across Lahaina, in west Maui, Maryann Kobatake’s nephew helped ferry a friend’s grandmother and cousins to safety. On the drive out of a burning Front Street, the town’s main thoroughfare, she said the 18-year-old heard screams and witnessed carnage that haunts him still.

He has not discussed what he saw with her or other family members. ‘I don’t think he wants to relive it by talking,’ she said, adding that she had tried to get him to open up to her. ‘Because he’s had it tough in life, I think that’s just how he copes with it.’

Kobatake, who is Native Hawaiian, said she was worried that her nephew’s habit of suppressing his emotions may leave him unprepared to navigate PTSD symptoms and triggers, especially given that, every day, he has to drive by the ravaged town on his way to school. . . . 

There are many obstacles to residents getting the help they need. A longstanding distrust of the government, given the history of colonization and neglect, and the decision to prioritize the return of tourism over long-term housing for survivors, has prevented people from seeking available care, practitioners say. . . . 

Some patients expressed frustration with having to repeatedly check in with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) and the Red Cross to continue receiving benefits. They’re also skeptical about dealing with a changing cast of government workers ‘who don’t know the island.’”

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