We’re Excited To Be Included In Ken Burns Documentary Exploring Mental Illnesses And Young People

Please watch this 4:25 minute trailer from Ken Burns’s documentary about youth and mental illnesses. 

(3-7-22) Two years ago a film crew showed up at my office to interview my son, Kevin, and me for a four hour documentary that Ken Burns was doing for PBS about youth and mental health. Now, Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness, is schedule to be shown in late June.

Erik and Christopher Ewers filmed the documentary and I was impressed with how thorough they were when speaking to us.  Kevin continued to work with the brothers while they made the four hour

Kevin being interviewed

documentary. He provided them with several illustrations and traveled to New York to record several original songs about his struggles with bipolar disorder.

Thank you Ken Burns and the Ewers Brothers for focusing on how young people are impacted by mental illnesses and what we can do to help them.

The documentary features interviews with 20 young people. “They speak to all of us. They speak for many of us.”

From the Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness website:

Hiding In Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness

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)

Kevin is in last row, first column.
About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.