The Momentum Center to hold 3-part mental health forum

The very pandemic that is causing a mental health crisis along the Lakeshore and across the country also threatened the Momentum Center’s ‘Winter Series: Exploring Mental Illness.’

“We decided the topic is too important right now to not have the conversation,” says Barbara Lee VanHorssen with the Grand Haven-based Momentum Center.

The Momentum Center’s first event in Holland has been moved online.

The next wave of COVID will be one of mental illness, VanHorssen says.

“We know people are struggling more with mental health with the pandemic than before,” says VanHorssen, the nonprofit’s Experi-Mentor (Executive Director). “People are coping in different ways, but it’s taking an emotional toll.”

According to the latest Ottawa County Community Health Needs Assessment, one in six adults in Ottawa County report having poor mental health. One in 20 report having thoughts of suicide.

“The numbers are just horrifying,” Van Horssen says.

According to the latest Kaiser Family Fund poll, during the pandemic, about four in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, quadruple what it was in 2019. And 56% of young adults (ages 18-24) now report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder. And young adults are more likely to report substance use (from 13% to 25%) and suicidal thoughts (from 11% to 26%).

The Holland Momentum Center will host its first virtual Winter Series beginning Tuesday, Jan. 11, with succeeding sessions Jan. 18 and 25. All sessions will begin at 6 p.m. Originally planned as an onsite event in Holland, the series will now be presented virtually through Zoom in response to COVID numbers.

“The signs, symptoms, and treatment of mental illness are frequently misunderstood and often misinterpreted,” VanHorssen says.

The series will help separate fact from fiction, increase understanding, and reduce stigma around mental illness.

Tuesday’s virtual event will feature licensed psychologist Brett Van Tol, PhD, who will lead discussion of ‘Bipolar Disorder and Depression.’ Van Tol is affiliated with Pine Rest Holland Clinic.

Kayla Moore, a licensed master social worker with Mercy Health, will address ‘Panic & Anxiety Disorders’ on Jan. 18.

‘Schizophrenia’ will be the discussion topic on Jan. 25 and will be led by Michele VanderSchel, LLP, a psychologist with Ottawa County Community Mental Health. 

Individuals may register for one or more of these presentations at  

For details, email or call 616-414-9111.

The Momentum Center, which is headquartered in Grand Haven, is a grassroots movement to create a stigma-free community. It hosts community conversations and operates The Momentum Center for Social Engagement that addresses mental illness, addictions, and disabilities. The Momentum Center also houses the Momentum Café and operates Just Goods Gifts. 

The Holland Momentum Center began implementing limited programming in the Holland-Zeeland area in November 2021 with the help of a Community Foundation of the Holland-Zeeland Area grant and is looking for further grant money to create a full pilot program and locate dedicated space for it, VanHorssen says. Currently, the program offers support groups, activities, and outings for anyone who has mental illness, disability, or addiction. Membership is $1 a year. To view the calendar of events, visit

Read more articles by Andrea Goodell.