Southwest Michigan media examines mental health issues
Southwest Michigan media organizations are working to shed light on the issue of mental health. WMUK is one of 12 members of the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative. The Mental Wellness Project examines challenges and solutions to mental health issues.
The press release can be found below
Southwest Michigan News Collaboration Announces First Reporting Project to Examine Community Mental Health Challenges and Solutions
In an effort to improve the news landscape and promote diversity and inclusion of voices among journalists and news sources in Southwest Michigan, a group of 12 media and news organizations have formed the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative (SWJMC).
SWMJC media and community partners include:
Voice of the community
Kalamazoo Community Foundation
· New/New opinion
Public Media Network
Second Wave Southwest Michigan
UMM School of Communication
WMU Student Media Group
Public Radio WMUK 102.1 FM
The collaboration began meeting in 2019 to explore how, in today’s landscape of shrinking news organizations and personnel, local media leaders could work together to tell our community’s most critical stories.
Since the first meeting in 2019, members of the collaboration have published joint reports on homelessness solutions and a back-to-school series examining how to overcome barriers to academic success for families and students whose primary language is Spanish.
In September 2021, the SWMJC received a $100,000 grant from the Solutions Journalism Network to launch the Mental Wellness Project. SJN is an organization focused on facilitating and encouraging the practice of solutions journalism through rigorous reporting on responses to social issues. The collaboration also received $27,500 from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation to support the work.
The Mental Wellness Project is the first SWMJC project that will have reporting and involvement from all collaborating partners and will examine limited access to mental health services due to social stigma, scarcity of mental health professionals – especially mental health professionals who are culturally competent – and the availability and affordability of high-quality services to close the access gap.
“This mental health project is a big step forward for the collaboration,” said Mickey Ciokajlo, local news director for MLive, which includes the Kalamazoo Gazette. closely with each other covering important issues in the community. »
As a solutions journalism effort, SWMJC’s Mental Wellness Project reporting will provide stories and information that will help people understand issues and challenges and show potential ways to respond. The Mental Wellness Project will pay particular attention to the crisis caused by social isolation and loneliness related to COVID-19.
The stories that are part of the project are published by collaborative partners on their own media platforms as well as on the SWMJC website at swmichjournalism.org.
“The ongoing pandemic has increased the need for mental health care, while simultaneously limiting access,” said Kathy Jennings, managing editor of Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave Media. “The seriousness of the current mental health situation has been widely discovered in our market.”
Additionally, the collaboration has hosted three editorial consultative meetings, meeting with community members and mental health care providers who help provide collaboration members with an accurate picture of what works and doesn’t work when it comes to mental health access and treatment in our community.
To guide the work and execution of the funded project, SWMJC recently welcomed Melinda Clynes as Project Manager and Editor. Clynes worked as a freelance writer and marketing consultant for 30 years.
“I’m so excited to take on this role with the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative and its Mental Wellness Project,” Clynes said. “It is a privilege to work with the smart and committed journalists and leaders who are part of the collaboration and to meet members of the community who can share their concerns with us. With these two elements in play, we have an opportunity amazing to elevate the discussion on how to improve access to mental health services to build healthier, happier communities.”
The Solutions Journalism Network grant is the collective’s first major funding.