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Supporting youth mental health: Opportunities and obstacles

Zoom meeting of mental health providers and members of the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative

This story is part of the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative's Mental Wellness Initiative

Local leaders who work with young people say a generational mental health crisis is looming but not inevitable. To avoid a crisis requires more adequate funding for services – not a new need by any means. The leaders also expressed a need less well-known outside of social service circles: Youth know what they need, and they know what works for them, so providers need to listen more and direct less.

Data released earlier this year from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the factors that contribute to a worsening mental health for the country’s youth were starting to add up even before the pandemic. And the rates of psychological distress among already marginalized youth have only increased since COVID-19 arrived.

In order to better understand the local impact, the support systems that are available, and the gaps in the system in the greater Kalamazoo community, the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative’s Mental Wellness Project held a forum with experts in the field.

Read more about the discussion and its implications for mental health from Now Kalamazoo.

This story is part of the Mental Wellness Project, a solutions-oriented journalism initiative covering mental health issues in southwest Michigan, created by the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative. SWMJC is a group of 12 regional organizations dedicated to strengthening local journalism. For more info visit