Hiding In Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness, A Ken Burns Documentary
We don’t talk about feelings, we don’t talk about struggles,
we don’t talk about what’s going on in our head.
— Makalynn, Age 24
It’s taken me a very, very long time to even speak openly about it.
But if I don’t talk about it now, then I’m wasting potential time
where I could help somebody. If I can even reach two people
from everything I say, then I did my part in this world.
— Morgan, Age 26
Mental illness is one of the most significant health crises in the world—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 nervousness becomes anxiety; excitement becomes mania, and habit becomes addiction. It’s the place where simply living becomes painful.
It affects all ages, in families both rich and poor, healthy and dysfunctional. Trauma can be the trigger—from personal crises such as divorce and neglect to environmental disasters, racial injustice, and pandemics. Over time, the symptoms can progress, and lead to increasingly extreme behaviors—like eating disorders, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide.
The issues surrounding mental illness are extraordinarily complex. The risk factors are daunting, the economics bewildering, and the politics contentious. But the most important step—and often the most difficult one—is to start talking about it. Hiding in Plain Sight will bring that conversation into homes, schools, the workplace, and community organizations across the country.
The two-part, four-hour film follows the journeys of more than 20 young Americans from all over the country and all walks of life, who have struggled with thoughts and feelings that have troubled—and, at times—overwhelmed them. They share what they have learned about themselves, their families, and the world in which they live. Through first-person accounts, the film presents an unstinting look at both the seemingly insurmountable obstacles faced by those who live with mental disorders and the hope that many have found after that storm. In the process, they will directly confront the issues of stigma, discrimination, awareness, and silence, and, in doing so, support the ongoing 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, premieres June 27-28, 2022. (4 hours)
Learn more about the documentary and watch the two episodes here.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events. This unique network of frontline providers, family members, researchers, and national partners is committed to changing the course of children’s lives by improving their care and moving scientific gains quickly into practice across the U.S.
In response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde Texas, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has developed resources to help children, families, educators, and communities navigate what they are seeing and hearing, acknowledge their feelings, and find ways to cope together. These resources include:
- Talking to Children about the Shooting
- Helping Youth After a Community Trauma: Tips for Educators (En Español)
- Talking to Children: When Scary Things Happen (En Español)
- Talking to Teens about Violence (En Español)
- Tips for Talking to Students about Violence
- Coping After Mass Violence: For Adults
- For Teens: Coping After Mass Violence(En Español)
- Helping School-Age Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (En Español)
- Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers(En Español)
- Helping Young Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (En Español)
- Guiding Adults in Talking to Children about Death and Attending Services
- After a Crisis: Helping Young Children Heal
- Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event
- Once I Was Very Very Scared – children’s book for young children
- After the Injury—website for families with injured children
- Health Care Toolbox—website for pediatric health providers working with injured children
- Pause-Reset-Nourish (PRN) to Promote Wellbeing (En Español) (for responders)