Doug & Alek are joined by Watershed Voice Columnist and Office Manager Steph Hightree to discuss parenting during a pandemic, how paramount in-school counseling has been for her daughter Cadence, the trials and triumphs of her son Nathan, the joys of camping and her dogged pursuit of a Playstation 5 for her husband in the first of two back-to-back episodes with Ms. #MomLife herself.
Provisional data shows there were 1,282 suicide deaths in Michigan in 2020, according to a report by the Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission. Compared to 2019, which had 1,471 suicides in Michigan, that number is lower, but the commission expects the 2020 data to increase as more suicide reports are finalized.
WSV’s Steph Hightree writes, “I think it is only natural we all wish for that small break where we can just be ourselves and not be mom for a minute. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as taking a whole vacation, it can just be hiding in the bathroom for 15 minutes to take a second to breathe, running to the store alone, going on a weekend trip, or in my case, driving eight hours away to a cabin in the woods to hopefully unwind and unplug.”
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.
Doug and Alek are joined by Watershed Voice columnist, local author & psychotherapist Charles Thomas to discuss Taylor Swift pulling a Prince, Mark Cuban’s decision to temporarily stop playing the National Anthem before Dallas Mavericks games, and coping with mental health issues in the midst of a global pandemic.
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.”
WSV columnist and licensed psychotherapist Charles Thomas writes, “Sometimes, in the midst of a crisis, a tiny dose of compassion, and a little help keeping things in perspective can be very powerful medicine.”
“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.”
“Let’s talk mental health in the black community. Why is this a stigma? Who decided that it was taboo to speak about this topic? When are we going to stop the crab in a barrel mentality?”
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.