Psychology Master’s Degree Programs in Hawaii

Hawaii was recently named the happiest state in America. This should come as no surprise to those lucky enough to call the lush, tropical utopia home; however, the cost of living in paradise can be a substantial burden for anyone other than wealthy retirees from the mainland who make their home here. One survey found that residents of Hawaii have the highest level of personal debt in the nation, with an average of $869,250 per person!

In Hawaii, the median rent of $2,400 is one-and-a-half times the national average. And with a median home price of $550,000– twice the national average –anybody interested in putting down roots and buying here may find home ownership out of reach. Financial stress is one of the leading causes of psychological stress, and nearly everyone is affected at some point in their lives. In some cases, financial stress can be so severe it can cause symptoms similar to those of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Anybody living with substantial and persistent financial stess is more likely to develop classic symptoms of mental illness, including anxiety, depression and even psychosis.

The need for psychological services continues to grow in Hawaii due to other factors as well. The opioid crisis that hit much of the United States hasn’t spared Hawaii. Due to the state’s tourism industry and remote location, it has been classified as a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

Even in the happiest state in the nation, there is a persistent and growing need for trained psychologists, substance abuse counselors and social workers, and with the availability of both online and campus-based master’s programs here, you could become part of the solution for the members of your community.

Licensing Options in Hawaii with a Master’s Degree

You’ll need a doctorate (Ph.D. or PSY) to become licensed as a full authority psychologist in Hawaii. A master’s is not only a crucial step on this path, it can also serve as your terminal degree for the Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) credential.

Outside of private practice, there is an immediate and constant need for counselors in Hawaii’s schools, hospitals and even military installations. Hawaii is a military giant with one of the greatest concentrations of military bases in the United States. This means there is a high demand for psychologists for both active duty service members and retired veterans and their families.

Master’s Degree Options in Hawaii

Residents of Hawaii have a surprising number of options when it comes to earning a master’s in psychology, both online and on-campus. Schools like the University of Hawaii at Hilo offer distance programs, available tostudents on all of the Hawaii islands.

Students who have a desire to work with the youth within the schools and community may choose a master’s program at Chaminade University of Honolulu, which has specialized curriculums for school and mental health counseling.

And for those who need more options, there are a variety of on-line programs designed to fit the unique needs of just about any lifestyle.

Ensuring Psychological Services are Available to Everybody

Hawaii’s high cost of living also means a high rate of poverty.  Census estimates have rated the state with the ninth-highest poverty rate in the U.S. These high poverty rates indicate a serious need for mental health services within a community segment that doesn’t always have the financial means to get help. Services like Helping Hands Hawaii hire qualified professionals to help this underserved population.

Other programs like the Family Strengthening Center administer services to children and families of diverse socio-economic backgrounds, helping reinforce the importance of family support.

Substance Abuse Counseling Demands Continue to Grow

Opioid and methamphetamine use have increased exponentially over the years in the Islands. In fact, one study identified Hawaii as the nation’s leader in workplace meth usage.  Places like Kauai have seen black tar heroin spread like a virus across its communities, mainly attributed to increasing restrictions on prescription painkillers.

The high rate of substance abuse has led to a serious need for trained addiction specialists and other mental-health professionals. The problem of addiction falls disproportionately on native Hawaiians, a fact that puts other native islanders in a unique position to provide those services most effectively.

A Large Military Community Means Underserved Mental Health Needs

Hawaii has a total of 11 military bases across its islands. It is also one of the few states that represents each of the five branches of the military. Additionally, the island of Oahu ranks number four in the county for number of military personnel.

Families often withstand many relocations during a military career in addition to repeated separations. These demands on both the military member and the family unit can lead to serious depression among both parents and children. Behavior issues in military children also often stem from long and numerous absences of a deployed parent.

With such a significant military presence, many counselors and psychologists either work for the military directly or otherwise contract their services as independent practitioners.

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