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MARCH 2, 2022 PRESS RELEASE

Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness

Premieres June 27 and 28 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS

Ken Burns Presents a Film by Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers Exploring Today’s Youth Mental Health Crisis Through First-Person Stories of Young People

Two-Part Film is a Cornerstone of Public Media’s Well Beings Campaign to Demystify and Destigmatize our Physical and Mental Health Through Storytelling

Washington, D.C. — March 2, 2022 — WETA Washington, D.C., the flagship public media station in the nation’s capital, announced today that KEN BURNS PRESENTS HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS A FILM BY ERIK EWERS AND CHRISTOPHER LOREN EWERS, a documentary about the mental health crisis among youth in America, will premiere on PBS stations nationwide on June 27 and 28, 2022 at 9:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video app. 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. A preview of the film, with a special message from executive producer Ken Burns, is available at wellbeings.org/plainsight

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. 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. 

“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.” 

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

“We hope that this film will save lives,” said executive producer Ken Burns. “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. 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 HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS 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.

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. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.

KEN BURNS PRESENTS HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS A FILM BY ERIK EWERS AND CHRISTOPHER LOREN EWERS is 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. 

The Well Beings Youth Mental Health Project, which includes HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS, is made possible by Otsuka, Kaiser Permanente, Bank of America, Liberty Mutual Insurance, American Psychiatric Association Foundation, One Mind, Movember, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dana Foundation, Dauten Family Foundation, The Hersh Foundation, Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission, John & Frances Von Schlegell, Sutter Health, Robina Riccitiello, and Jackson Family Enterprises. Partners include CALL TO MIND at American Public Media, PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, WE Organization, Forbes, PEOPLE, Mental Health America, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, The Steve Fund, The Jed Foundation and Athletes for Hope. The project underwriters are leveraging their organizational resources to support Well Beings and have created a video, available to view at youtu.be/6Ke4BTivJzU.

ABOUT WELL BEINGS

Well Beings launched in July 2020 with the Youth Mental Health Project, engaging youth voices to create a national conversation, raise awareness, address stigma and discrimination, and encourage compassion. Well Beings was created by WETA Washington, D.C., the flagship public media station in the nation’s capital, and brings together partners from across the country, including people with lived experience of health challenges, families, caregivers, educators, medical and mental health professionals, social service agencies, private foundations, filmmakers, corporations and media sponsors, to create awareness and resources for better health and well-being. Other featured Well Beings projects address rural health care, caregiving, survival of childhood cancer and more. 

ABOUT WETA

WETA is the leading public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational initiatives and with high-quality programming on television, radio and digital. WETA Washington, D.C., is the second largest producing-station of new content for public television in the United States, with productions and co-productions including works by filmmaker Ken Burns and Florentine Films, such as the forthcoming BENJAMIN FRANKLIN; and by scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., including the series FINDING YOUR ROOTS; as well as PBS NEWSHOUR, WASHINGTON WEEK, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG, THE KENNEDY CENTER MARK TWAIN PRIZE, and IN PERFORMANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org

ABOUT PBS 

PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Communications on Twitter.  

CONTACTS:

DKC, WETADKC@dkcnews.com

Lameka Lucas, WETA, TEL.: 703-998-4775, llucas@weta.org

For up-to-date information on this and other PBS programs, visit PBS PressRoom at pbs.org/pressroom.

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.