Michigan Association of Health Plans

Finding their voices: Michigan residents confront mental health

Tony Moayyer is a warm and charming Grand Rapids resident with a new wife and a burgeoning career.

But at times, mental illness has derailed his life. Times when anxiety has made him short-tempered and snappish. Times when his depression was so deep that he was suicidal.

“If you don’t control it, if you don’t stabilize it, you could be six feet under,” he said.

One of five Michigan adults suffer from depression, anxiety or other forms of mental illness; it’s one of the most-common health issues in the American population. But the stigma is such many hesitate to talk about it.

Hoping to address the stigma head on, MLive asked for first-person essays from Moayyer and 39 other Michigan residents impacted by mental-health issues. Their stories are here; just click on a photo to read that person’s essay.

We asked for the essays after publishing a special project in September 2019 on Michigan’s mental-health system, focusing on the shortage of in-patient psychiatric beds. Those stories generated a strong response from readers, including many who had their own stories to tell.

We want to give a voice to the many people facing mental-health issues, either their own or people around them. We want to show you what it’s like dealing with the mental-health system.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, is among those who contributed an essay about how mental-health issues have impacted her family.

“We can’t keep mental-health issues under a rock anymore,” Dingell says. “Quite frankly, this subject is taboo for too many people, and we’ve got to get them over that. We need to make sure that people can get the help that they need. But we also need to be willing to talk about it, period.

“The No. 1 issue is addressing the stigma,” Dingell says. “We’ve got to rip that Band Aid off.”

This article appeared in MLive. Read more here.