New from Ken Burns

Two-part film explores today's youth mental health crisis through first-person stories of young people.


At a time when the nation faces a rising crisis in youth mental health, Ken Burns presents a major new public television documentary, HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS, a film by Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers. The film gives voice to the experiences of young people who struggle with mental health challenges and focuses on the importance of awareness and empathy.

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

“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,” said executive   producer Ken Burns. “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.”

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS is part of Well Beings, a national multiplatform public media campaign to demystify and destigmatize our physical and mental health through storytelling. A preview of the documentary, with a special message from executive producer Ken Burns, is available at

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