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 Steph Hightree writes, “I am a big supporter of taking medication to help with one’s mental health and other health related issues. I wouldn’t be able to function without mine. But my daughter is feeling some shame with hers. She feels like something is wrong with her because she has to take medicine. So how do we end this stigma? Unfortunately society has not helped with this. Mental health is still not considered a health problem even though it has the word health right in its name. It is considered taboo to be depressed. People don’t like discussing or dealing with it. I’d like to end that now.”

“Why do we resort to ignoring every fiber of our being to appease others? Everywhere I look, I see people who are crippled by the fear of what might happen if they were to veer from tradition, or religious indoctrination. Placing the opinions of others above their own authenticity. Forcing themselves towards “achievement” as approved by society. We are prone to do this, although it is a well-known fact that you can’t please everyone.
When you are making decisions for the heart, and in line with your purpose you cannot even rely on a majority vote.”

Around the world there was little time to brace for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has rocked so much to the core, including me. As a daughter, friend, wife, mother… human, I am concerned about not only those that I love, but also those that I don’t know all over the world.

In the midst of planning, cleaning and assisting, one unexpected emotion that kept circling back was grief. It took me by surprise, but its presence was undeniable. Grief.