Mental Health Services for Homeless Individuals in Honolulu: How to Access and Improve

The medical difficulties of the homeless are compounded by higher rates of mental health disorders.


of homeless people interviewed reported having health insurance, 39% reported having dental insurance, and 66% reported having a regular clinic or provider. This finding may suggest a significant increase in the number of homeless people among Micronesians or an immigration of Micronesians who have not found housing, indicating that the health of the homeless population is actually worse than that found in this study. In Hawaii, interventions have been introduced to help the homeless population, such as volunteer health clinics located in homeless shelters, where job training and social services share a common location. However, this study suggests that insurance alone does not facilitate health care for both the homeless population and the general population.

It may be more effective to use funds spent on insurance for this segment of the population to provide direct care to the homeless, thus eliminating barriers to traveling to receive care and pay for medicines.

Research Methodology

A convenience sample of 205 adults at homeless shelters, food distribution events, and other common places in Meeting for homeless people in O'ahu were interviewed using a survey tool developed by the research team. After obtaining approval from the Human Subjects Committee of the University of Hawaii (IRB) and conducting a pilot test of the study, the survey was carried out in areas where services were provided or where homeless people were known to congregate (see distribution in Figure 1).


Among the limitations of the study were convenience sampling, which allowed homeless people who were already receiving some type of assistance to be oversampled.


The findings from this study suggest that there is a need for more comprehensive mental health services for homeless individuals in Honolulu. In order to ensure that these individuals are able to access these services, it is important to provide them with access to transportation and other resources that can help them get to their appointments. Additionally, it is important to provide them with information about available services and how they can access them.

Finally, it is important to ensure that these services are affordable and accessible.