Watch: Youth Mental Health Crisis Explored in New Ken Burns Documentary
A new documentary is shedding light on the depth of America’s youth mental health crisis.
Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness is the work of legendary documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. The two-part series recently aired on PBS.
The film follows more than 20 people with various types of mental health struggles. It includes insights from parents, advocates and mental health clinicians.
The individuals tell their stories in a way only they can — through lived experience and personal trauma. The subjects include transgender youth, interracial youth, youth from rich families and poor families, children of immigrants, and people whose parents are incarcerated. As different as each of them are, they all share a common challenge that society often struggles to understand.
The vast majority of mental health disorders appear by the time a person is in their early 20s. A full 50% manifest before the age of 15. Early detection and intervention is crucial. Yet teens are finding it harder and harder to open up about their struggles in a meaningful way.
Teens were already facing a treacherous path thanks to the rise of social media. The COVID-19 pandemic compounded all these issues. Proms were canceled, sports were cut off, and any sense of normalcy or predictability went out the window.
“The reality is our system was ill-equipped to meet the mental health treatment needs of our population before 2020 and it is not going to be better equipped to meet the increased needs after 2020,” said Child Psychologist Sarah Y. Vinson, MD.
In the film’s second episode, we hear how people overcame their issues with mental health and what young people can do to seek help.
Burns hopes his series will lend a greater sense of urgency to the mental health crisis and, perhaps, save a life.
You can watch the documentary in both English and Spanish here.