National Campaign Joins Local Public Media Stations in Addressing Youth Mental Health Project Build Towards 2022 Documentary Series, HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS, Executive Produced by Ken Burns, Produced and Directed by Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers of Ewers Brothers Productions
Campaign Reached Millions in First Year Through National Tour,
Well Beings Digital Platform and Original Content
Multiplatform Campaign Charts Major Projects on Health for Next Decade
WASHINGTON, D.C. — August 16, 2021 — Well Beings, the public media campaign produced by WETA Washington D.C., to address critical health needs in America through storytelling, conversation and events, celebrates its first year of impact. The Well Beings campaign made its debut with the Youth Mental Health Project, which is the first major project of the multi-year, multi-platform campaign that provides programming and resources to promote mental and physical health, raise awareness, educate, reduce stigma and discrimination and change the national conversation. In its inaugural year, the Youth Mental Health Project featured impactful local and national conversations as part of the Well Beings engagement events; original digital-first content ranging from feature-length and short-form documentaries to animated explainer shorts; and signature broadcast content, which will culminate in the premiere of the upcoming series, HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS (w.t.). The new four-hour documentary executive produced by Ken Burns, is slated to premiere on public television stations in 2022. A preview of the documentary series, which was first shown in July 2021 at the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s (NAMI) annual convention, NAMICon 2021, is available here.
“This project launched amid dire mental health challenges facing America’s young people, as the pandemic upended their education, social lives and support networks,” said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA. “Our Well Beings campaign could not have come at a more critical time, serving the public with extraordinary array of expansive resources and educational content surrounding vital mental health issues. Led by the voices and stories of young people, Well Beings Youth Mental Health Project has been able to bring students, parents, educators, health and mental health professionals, activists and advocates into a national conversation about the importance of caring for our mental health and breaking down the stigma associated with mental health needs.”
Well Beings throughout the past year launched the following project components that have together reached millions of people throughout America:
- WELL BEINGS TOUR: Includes dozens of events hosted in partnership with local PBS affiliates and NPR stations in major US cities including Baltimore, Anchorage, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Detroit and more. The thematic events connect audiences with mental health advocates, experts and youth with lived experience, to address the most vital mental health needs facing young people within their community. To date, these events have garnered more than 1 million online views.
- Original, Digital Content: Including OUT OF THE DARK, a mini-series featuring US Olympic medalist Raven Saunders and other young mental health advocates sharing their experiences on topics such as depression, anxiety, bullying, suicidal ideation and more; TELL MY STORY, a feature-length documentary about a grieving father seeking answers after his son dies by suicide; and LITTLE ACTIONS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE an animated series sharing simple, science-based actions and tactics to support social-emotional health and well-being.
- ON OUR MINDS WITH NOAH & ZION: A PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs podcast hosted by teenage journalists who discuss topics about the teenage experience such as the influence of social media, sharing stories of youth grappling with the effects of information overload on their mental health. Student Reporting Labs is the award-winning program from PBS NewsHour that connects students with a network of public broadcasting mentors and an innovative journalism curriculum.
- WELL BEINGS STORYWALL: Showcases the online user-generated shared stories of mental health experiences from youth and adults across the country. Over 6,000 pieces have shared so far on the Storywall, made possible by Well Beings Youth Mental Health supporters PEOPLE and Otsuka.
- Well Beings-Branded Forbes.com Blog: Written by Well Beings spokespersons Kee Dunning, and pediatrician and resilience author Dr. Hansa Bhargava
Among the highlights ahead for the Well Beings Youth Mental Health Project through 2022 are the following plans:
- Well Beings Educators Toolkit: A comprehensive digital educators’ toolkit including lesson plans, mental health training and professional development resources designed to familiarize educators with, and destigmatize, the most common mental health challenges teenagers face.
- Well Beings Tour: The Well Beings Tour continues with more than 28 events in markets including Austin, Baton Rouge, New York and Washington D.C.
- HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS: Four-hour documentary film premiering on public television in 2022, is executive produced by Ken Burns, produced and directed by Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers of Ewers Brother Productions. The film tells the story of the youth mental health crisis through first-person accounts from 22 young people ages 11 to 27, as well as the parents, teachers, friends and healthcare providers in their lives. The film presents a window into daily life with mental health challenges from seemingly insurmountable obstacles to stories of hope and resilience.
- BRAVE TEENS: Feature-length digital documentary exploring the personal lives of teens preparing for a high school stage production that welcomes teens from all walks of life to stand up on stage and bravely share their mental health stories without fear, shame or stigma. The film is directed by Beth Murphy of Principle Pictures. A preview of BRAVE TEENS is available here.
WETA formally launched Well Beings in July 2020 with a virtual town hall at NAMICon 2020, the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s (NAMI) annual convention. The kick-off town hall featured messages of support from a host of celebrities including Matthew McConaughey, Kid Cudi, Billy Porter, Demi Moore, Finn Wolfhard; a musical performance from the Tony Award®-winning Dear Evan Hansen; and a panel discussion.
The Well Beings Youth Mental Health Project is made possible by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., 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, and The Jed Foundation. The project sponsors and partner are leveraging their organizational resources, chapters and affiliates at the local and national levels to support Well Beings and have created a video, available to view here.
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 PBS NEWSHOUR, WASHINGTON WEEK, THE KENNEDY CENTER MARK TWAIN PRIZE, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG, LATINO AMERICANS, ASIAN AMERICANS and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns and scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.
About Well Beings
Well Beings is a multi-platform, multi-year campaign from public media to address the critical health needs in America through original broadcast and digital content, engagement campaigns, and impactful local events. The campaign begins 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 youth with lived experience of mental 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 wellbeing. The public can join the conversation on youth mental health by using #WellBeings, visiting WellBeings.org, or following @WellBeingsOrg on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.