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While filming our documentary on mental and behavioral health, I have personally interviewed over 1,200 families across the United States. It has been something that drives our mission and vision through to the core still today. Our kids need more help now then ever before. Our families are in crisis and can no longer fight these battles in the dark or alone.

Our friend Holly over at Navigate Mental Health shared the news of a new series that we had to jump right into!

To see a legend like Ken Burns spend time showcasing the same issues our youth face - is an absolute honor. A new must series has just launched that we highly recommend.We will have a break down of the episodes after our team has had a chance to complete a full viewing and assessment.

We don’t talk about feelings, we don’t talk about struggles, we don’t talk about what’s going on in our head.

— Makalynn,

Ken Burns presents HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS, a documentary series about the mental health crisis among youth in America. The two-part, four-hour film is part of Well Beings, a national campaign from public media to demystify and de stigmatize our physical and mental health through storytelling.

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS features first-person accounts from more than 20 youth, ranging in age from 11 to 27, who live with mental health conditions, as well as parents, teachers, friends, healthcare providers in their lives, and independent mental health experts.

It’s taken me a very, very long time to even speak openly about it. But if I don’t talk about it now, then I’m wasting potential time where I could help somebody. If I can even reach two people from everything I say, then I did my part in this world.

— Morgan

Mental illness is one of the most significant health crises in the world—as pervasive as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease—but it often exists in secret and is endured in isolation. It’s the place where sadness leaves off, and depression begins; where nervousness becomes anxiety; excitement becomes mania, and habit becomes addiction. It’s the place where simply living becomes painful.

It affects all ages, in families both rich and poor, healthy and dysfunctional. Trauma can be the trigger—from personal crises such as divorce and neglect to environmental disasters, racial injustice, and pandemics. Over time, the symptoms can progress, and lead to increasingly extreme behaviors—like eating disorders, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide.

The issues surrounding mental illness are extraordinarily complex. The risk factors are daunting, the economics bewildering, and the politics contentious. But the most important step—and often the most difficult one—is to start talking about it. Hiding in Plain Sight will bring that conversation into homes, schools, the workplace, and community organizations across the country.

The two-part, four-hour film follows the journeys of more than 20 young Americans from all over the country and all walks of life, who have struggled with thoughts and feelings that have troubled—and, at times—overwhelmed them.

They share what they have learned about themselves, their families, and the world in which they live. Through first-person accounts, the film presents an unstinting look at both the seemingly insurmountable obstacles faced by those who live with mental disorders and the hope that many have found after that storm. In the process, they will directly confront the issues of stigma, discrimination, awareness, and silence, and, in doing so, support the ongoing shift in the public perception of mental illness today.

Filmmaker Quotes:

“We interviewed a diverse group of courageous young people from across the country with a range of diagnoses who spoke openly with us, and shared intimate, and often painful, details of their mental health journeys,” said directors and co-producers Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers. “We hope that by bringing these experiences to a broadcast and online audience, our film will help shed light on how commonplace — how truly universal — mental health challenges are, and encourage other young people who are struggling to seek help. As the pandemic has made clear, caring for the mental health of kids, teenagers, and young adults is more vital than ever.”

“We hope that this film will save lives. As a society, we continue to test the resiliency of youth without truly understanding how the stresses of today, including this unprecedented pandemic, are impacting them,” said executive producer Ken Burns. “Erik and Christopher and their team set out to listen and learn from America’s young people, documenting their experiences and allowing them to share how they are identifying new ways to address mental health challenges. It is a remarkable journey that captures the unique voices of these young people as they navigate an extraordinarily difficult era in our country’s history.”

The documentary is a central part of Well Beings, the multi-year, multiplatform health campaign including other feature-length documentaries, short-form original digital content, user-generated storytelling, a digital and social media campaign, community events, and educational curriculum created by WETA with support from a broad coalition of national and local partners. The public can join the conversation on youth mental health by using #PlainSightPBS and #WellBeings, visiting, or following @WellBeingsOrg on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.


Kolby & the TherapyScout Team

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