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

A decade ago, two enemies in Kalamazoo put down their guns. Following two straight years of record gun violence in the city, their intervention program remains especially vigilant in helping others decide to disarm – or not pick up a gun in the first place.
Talk therapy can be a highly effective way to treat mental-health issues, helping people to control or eliminate symptoms or behaviors that undermine a person’s well-being. Psychotherapy can help people process trauma or loss, teach coping skills to address depression and/or anxiety, address issues such as eating or substance-abuse disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder, and help heal broken relationships.
Feeling depressed? Anxious? Stressed out? Join the club. More than one-third of Michiganders reported experiencing symptoms of depression, stress and or anxiety in the previous two weeks, based on a federal Census survey taken in March.
If you’re a middle school or high school aged student in Three Rivers, the distance between where you attend school and a place that provides mental health services has never been shorter. Thanks to PAWS (Prevention and Wellness Service), a school-linked community adolescent health center, Three Rivers teens and tweens simply have to cross the street.
Claire Metzgar knows that taking a deep dive into the lives of individuals she connects with at Calhoun County’s Public Defenders Office will not keep them from being incarcerated for the criminal activity that brought them to her. Instead, her main focus as the office’s Social Work Coordinator is to keep those she works with from having any further interactions with the criminal justice system after they have served their time and are released.

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.