One Year After Wildfires, Maui Calm Project Aims to Address Mental Health Crisis.

The Maui Calm Project, an initiative of the Float Research Collective (a Maui-based nonprofit), is racing to provide emergency response clinical float therapy to treat anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Maui Fire survivors and the community. The project aims to bypass the cultural and financial barriers that have prevented many island residents from receiving effective mental health treatment in the wake of the tragedy by providing free therapy inside state-of-the-art facilities placed in Lahaina and the areas most affected by the 2023 natural disaster.

The Maui Calm project is being led by Maui resident Dr. Justin Feinstein, a clinical neuropsychologist and national authority on clinical float therapy. Dr. Feinstein’s peer-reviewed NIH-funded research has shown that float therapy is a safe and highly effective treatment for rapidly reducing stress, anxiety, and hyperarousal, especially in individuals with PTSD.

Within the first year of a major community trauma, the downward spiral towards long-term PTSD begins to set in, which can affect entire populations for decades. In an effort to address Maui’s pressing mental health needs, the Maui Calm project has opened up a limited number of corporate sponsorships in order to greatly accelerate their response to protect the people of Maui from chronic PTSD.

“Ten months post-disaster, Maui is facing a horrible mental health crisis. Thousands of residents are still displaced, drug overdoses are up nearly 50%, and many in our island community are suffering the effects of severe PTSD with limited access or means to acquire proper care,” said Dr. Feinstein. “Through the Maui Calm Project, we aim to minimize the long-term impacts of acute trauma-related stress and anxiety by bringing a clinically proven treatment to the island that circumvents common roadblocks related to traditional treatment programs. We’re proud to bring this novel therapy to the people of Maui and provide it completely free of charge to all the fire survivors and first responders. With our new sponsorship and public donation programs, we hope to make a swift and significant positive impact on Maui’s mental health.”

Float therapy is a completely safe treatment for the management of pain, stress, and anxiety. The therapy involves floating effortlessly in a pool of skin-temperature water that has been saturated with over a thousand pounds of Epsom salt. The treatment leverages the magnesium-rich properties of Epsom salt in pools specially designed to limit stimulation on the human nervous system, delivering a natural alternative to highly addictive medications like benzodiazepines and opioids. Scientific studies have shown that float therapy rapidly decreases pain, stress, and anxiety by lowering cortisol levels, slowing respiration and brain activity, and reducing muscle tension and blood pressure.

A member and representative of partnering agency and supporter of this initiative, Jim Hill from the Epsom Salt Council added, “Float therapy in Epsom salt has a multitude of therapeutic benefits - from muscle relaxation to stress relief to improved sleep quality - all of which can ease the suffering and anxiety that many fire survivors on Maui are currently experiencing. They have faced terror and unimaginable loss, and now they are on the road to recovery and rebuilding the community. We are proud to support this critical humanitarian effort that has the potential to treat similar mental health disasters across the nation or even the world.”

Utilizing large shipping containers, the Maui Calm Project is building float facilities that can be rapidly deployed and moved around the island for easy access. These modern float pools are designed to be completely open with no enclosures in order to remove any feelings of claustrophobia. Each facility will have three private rooms, each with their own float pool, shower, and an infrared lighting control system to adjust the ambiance for peak relaxation and peace of mind. At full capacity, each facility can serve over 300 people a week and provide over 15,000 float sessions a year.

Since its launch, the Maui Calm project has received support from a number of local government officials and organizations, including a $238,000 grant from the Hawai’i Community Foundation to cover the first full year of operational costs. The International Association of Fire Fighters Center of Excellence and the Maui Fire Department have also provided letters of support advocating for the use of clinical float therapy to help Maui first responders cope with the after-effects of this tragedy.

For more information on the project and to learn more about how you can donate or become an official sponsor, please visit