The Mental Wellness Project Archive

The Mental Wellness Project is a solutions-oriented journalism initiative covering mental health issues in Southwest Michigan, created by the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative.

This is a new project built to:

  • LISTEN to Southwest Michigan community members about the issues affecting mental wellness
  • LEARN how we can improve access to mental health services and supports to build healthier, happier communities
  • REPORT on effective approaches that can remove barriers to mental health services

COVID-19 increased mental health issues for many Americans. Now that the restrictions on daily life have largely lifted, the aftermath of months in isolation is still playing out in many people’s lives. Aside from problems brought on by the pandemic, mental illness is a reality for almost one in five people in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
When Jeffrey Tavarez and Agustin Leal-Diaz heard yet another story of suicide among college youth, they knew they had to do something to help — and they had to do it loudly, with the sound of thunder. The two recent graduates of Western Michigan University also wanted an effort specifically targeted for Spanish-speaking young adults, like themselves.

The Problem We Seek to Address

Some progress has been made toward a just and equitable healthcare system, especially with the implementation of telemedicine. However, access to mental health services remains limited due to societal stigma, shortage of mental health professionals—especially mental health professionals who are culturally competent—availability, and affordability of high-quality services to meet the gap in access.

Financial Support

The Mental Wellness Project is made possible through financial support from Solutions Journalism Network, with the mission to spread the practice of solutions journalism: rigorous reporting on responses to social problems. It seeks to rebalance the news, so that everyday people are exposed to stories that help them understand problems and challenges, and stories that show potential ways to respond.