‘Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness’ premieres June 27-28

June 14, 2022 Alyssa Beno Leave a Comment

PBS Wisconsin invites viewers to hear the voices and learn about the experiences of young Americans struggling with mental health challenges with Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness, a new documentary from executive producer Ken Burns and filmmakers Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers.

The new, two-part series begins 8 p.m. Monday, June 27 on PBS Wisconsin and streaming in the free PBS Video App everywhere you watch TV.

The documentary 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. It presents an unvarnished window into their daily lives with mental health challenges, from seemingly insurmountable obstacles to stories of hope and resilience.

 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. 

“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.” 

Through the experiences of these young people, the film confronts the issues of stigma, discrimination, awareness and silence, and, in doing so, helps advance a shift in the public perception of mental health issues today.

“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,” said directors and co-producers Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers. “As the pandemic has made clear, caring for the mental health of kids, teenagers and young adults is more vital than ever.”

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