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

Perhaps no surprise, cost is the No. 1 barrier to obtaining mental-health care, according to a 2018 federal survey of 5,000 Americans. But instead of giving up, it’s important to explore your options — and there are a surprising number for people worried about the cost of mental-health services.
It’s estimated that about 20% of Michigan adults experience a diagnosable mental-health condition in a given year. Yet more than half will go untreated. A major barrier? Cost, experts say.
When Paulo realized a troubled friend was at risk of suicide, he knew what to do. A few years before, Paulo had participated in a suicide-prevention program at Kalamazoo Central High School. He learned the red flags. He also learned the importance of asking someone if they were having suicidal thoughts.
Perci, 17, is a double major in philosophy and art history at Western Michigan University. He is one of hundreds of students at the university who have sought mental health care through the Sindecuse Health Center on campus.
“I knew I wanted to study psychology since I was 12. I thought it was neat stuff, and I loved to learn and liked people,” say Mira-Amaya, who is a licensed master social worker (LMSW).
One of the first clinics in the country for mind-and-body family care is opening in Kalamazoo. An explicit goal is to protect against the harm from a healthcare system that makes Black families particularly vulnerable.

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.