Watershed Voice set out to find how this pandemic is affecting young people in southwest Michigan, speaking to local mental health experts and teens alike. Throughout the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered lives across the world; people have lost their jobs, lost loved ones, and had to put their lives on hold. That feeling of going on pause has especially affected young people, who feel removed from some of the most formative years of their lives. It’s no wonder these feelings of isolation and helplessness have taken a toll on child and adolescent mental health.

In March 2020, the pandemic hit Michigan, bringing upheaval to schools. When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed schools buildings that month due to the climbing number of COVID-19 cases, districts across the state scrambled to craft a plan to meet students’ needs virtually. Over the last year, the pandemic has highlighted the inequities the struggling, underfunded Partnership schools face while they work to make ends meet during this current school year.

A proposed wastewater treatment plant under consideration by the Village of Mattawan is under fire from a range of critics. Recent village meetings have seen lengthy public comment periods, during which village residents and residents of nearby areas have largely voiced opposition to the plant. Currently, the Village pumps its wastewater to the Kalamazoo treatment system. However, village officials say a six-mile portion of the “forcemain” which connects the two systems requires considerable work to remain in operation.

The U.S. had a mental health professional shortage before the pandemic, and Southwest Michigan was no exception. Every county in Southwest Michigan had been designated as a mental health professionals shortage area by the Healthcare Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

WSV’s Beca Welty writes, “February in southwest Michigan might seem like an impossible time to enjoy your favorite meal on the deck of your ideal restaurant, but Martell’s in Kalamazoo has transformed that dream into a reality. Like a few of their sister restaurants in the Millennium group, Martell’s has installed cozy igloos for outdoor dining, and I was one of the lucky few to indulge in the experience.”