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HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS

Yanerry has learned to deal better with her audio and visual hallucinations by working with a therapist who has shared experiences.
Courtesy of Christopher Loren Ewers
Yanerry has learned to deal better with her audio and visual hallucinations by working with a therapist who has shared experiences.

Premieres Monday, June 27 at 9 p.m. and Tuesday, June 28 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV + Wednesday, June 29 at 8 p.m. and Thursday, June 30 at 8 p.m. on KPBS 2 / On demand with PBS Video App

Ken Burns presents HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS, a documentary 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 destigmatize our physical and mental health through storytelling.

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS features first-person accounts from more than 20 young people, 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.

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS: Trailer

The film presents an unvarnished window into daily life with mental health challenges, from seemingly insurmountable obstacles to stories of hope and resilience. Through the experiences of these young people, the film confronts the issues of stigma, discrimination, awareness, and silence, and, in doing so, help advance a shift in the public perception of mental health issues today.

Billie struggled against bullying and stigma to discover her own authentic expression.
Courtesy of Christopher Loren Ewers
Billie struggled against bullying and stigma to discover her own authentic expression.

The film includes the following individuals with lived experience of mental health challenges:

  • A teenager who surrenders to addiction at the age of 15
  • A young Native American woman who feels so isolated she contemplates suicide
  • A transgender teen who goes through periods of profound joylessness and substance abuse
  • A high school freshman whose childhood hallucinations intensify after a series of assaults
  • A 14-year-old boy who is plagued by intrusive thoughts and withdraws into his own world
Alexis is a college student from the Chippewa tribe in North Dakota.
Courtesy of Christopher Loren Ewers
Alexis is a college student from the Chippewa tribe in North Dakota.

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.”

With the support of his therapist and parents, Maclayn has learned to embrace his identity.
Courtesy of Christopher Loren Ewers
With the support of his therapist and parents, Maclayn has learned to embrace his identity.

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 WellBeings.org, or following @WellBeingsOrg on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Makalynn's diagnosis of bipolar gave her a way to understand her emotions and behavior.
Courtesy of Christopher Loren Ewers
Makalynn's diagnosis of bipolar gave her a way to understand her emotions and behavior.

EPISODE GUIDE:

“The Storm” Monday, June 27 at 9 pm on KPBS TV + Wednesday, June 29 at 8 p.m. on KPBS 2 - The first two-hour episode focuses on the lived experience of more than twenty young people with mental health challenges, along with the observations and insights of families, providers, and advocates.

Dr. Sarah Vincent is a Board Certified Child & Adolescent, Adult & Forensic Psychiatrist in Atlanta, Ga.
Courtesy of Christopher Loren Ewers
Dr. Sarah Vincent is a Board Certified Child & Adolescent, Adult & Forensic Psychiatrist in Atlanta, Ga.

“Resilience” Tuesday, June 28 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thursday, June 30 at 8 p.m. on KPBS 2 - In the second episode our "heroes" speak about finding help, inpatient and outpatient therapy, the added stigma of racial or gender discrimination, the criminalization of mental illness, and youth suicide.

Kee Dunning is a licensed clinical mental-health therapist in Billings, Mont.
Courtesy of Christopher Loren Ewers
Kee Dunning is a licensed clinical mental-health therapist in Billings, Mont.

Watch On Your Schedule:

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS will be available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO.

Credits:

A production of Florentine Films, Ewers Brothers Productions, and WETA Washington, D.C. Directed by Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers. Written by David Blistein. Produced by Julie Coffman. Co-produced by Susan Shumaker, Erik Ewers, Christopher Loren Ewers, and David Blistein. Executive produced by Ken Burns. Executive producers for WETA are John F. Wilson and Tom Chiodo. WETA project management by Kate Kelly. WETA production management by Jim Corbley.