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Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness

A documentary about the mental health crisis among youth in America.
Streaming now on PBS Passport

Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness

Longtime WETA production partner Ken Burns is the executive producer of a major new public television documentary, Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness. The film, which premiered in June 2022, gives voice to the experiences of young people who struggle with mental health challenges and focuses on the importance of awareness and empathy.

The Storm, the first two-hour episode of Hiding in Plain Sight, focuses on more than twenty young people who provide an intimate look at what it’s like to experience the symptoms of mental illness, from depression to addiction to suicide ideation. The film includes insights from families, providers, and advocates and explores the impact of childhood trauma, stigma, and social media.

For related resources in the Hiding in Plain Sight Collection on PBS LearningMedia, visit the link below.

Related Resources

About The Film

Mental illness is a significant global health crisis—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 anticipation becomes anxiety, enthusiasm becomes mania, and habit becomes addiction; the place where simply living becomes painful.

There are people struggling with mental illness all over the world: in remote rural communities, small towns, and major cities; in schools, the workplace, and in our homes. It is, in fact, a disease—a complicated one that has been a part of the human condition for thousands of years. Left undiagnosed, mental illness can last a lifetime. Left untreated, it can lead to addiction, homelessness, prison, or even death.

The issues surrounding mental illness are extraordinarily complex; the risk factors are daunting, the economics bewildering, the politics contentious. Public policy, research, and education can help. But the most important step—and often the most difficult one—is to start talking about it.

Hiding In Plain Sight, a two-part, four-hour film, will begin that conversation. Through first-person accounts, the film will present an unvarnished window into the issues associated with mental illness and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that those who live with it face daily. The film will confront the issues of stigma, discrimination, awareness, and silence, and, in doing so, help advance a major shift in the public perception of mental illness today.

Executive produced by Ken Burns, co-directed by Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers, produced by Julie Coffman, and written by David Blistein, Hiding in Plain Sight, the first film of Our Mental Health Crisis, is slated for broadcast on PBS in 2022. (4 hours)

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    WellBeings.org is a mental health resource, not a crisis or suicide response website. If you are in crisis, or experiencing thoughts of suicide, please text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741), or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.