I’ve had a really hard time finding the right words for this column for months. Truth be told, I’m still searching. If you’re reading this, you’ve also been living the experience that has been the past almost two years. A time plagued by one of the worst viral pandemics in modern history. A period of unimaginable loss, grief and vulnerability. I mean, what can you say? 


Fortunately, I am not the sole voice responsible for this important issue. Because of the bravery, courage and eloquence of others, answers and resolve may yet be found in these pages if you — like me — are still searching.


There’s an inspiring first-hand account of overcoming adverse childhood experiences and domestic abuse. There are stories that involve suicide from contrasting yet similar perspectives — one, a man who lost both of his parents; the other, a mother who said goodbye to her teenage daughter far too soon. The strife of substance use is unfortunately well-documented in Arkansas, and this issue features the story of someone who spent multiple stints on the steps of death’s door during his addiction battle. Then, there’s the elephant in every room — COVID-19. We spoke with those on the frontlines to share how heavy a burden being “essential” really is. 


But this is also an issue of hope; it’s the most important element of all. Because each of these stories features subjects who have found ways forward, no matter how difficult their journeys became. A mom found a way to help other teenagers, other families, from the fate that claimed her 16-year-old. A son rose to lead a behavioral health facility after his parents’ suicides. The recovering addict has devoted his life to shepherding others out of the same depths that drowned his 20s. The abuse victim became a Court Appointed Special Advocate to help other adolescents out of similar situations to hers. 


A better tomorrow is always possible. Help is always available. 


“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” — Victor Hugo


Dustin Jayroe



READ MORE: Mental Health Guide 2021 Governor’s Letter