Havre to host film and discussions on youth mental health
Free youth metal health awareness and response training also being made available
Last updated 9/22/2023 at 12:12pm
Parents, educators and the community are invited to a free film screening and discussion on youth mental health in Havre next week.
Wednesday, Sept. 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Hensler Auditorium of the Applied Technology Center on the Montana State University-Northern campus, a screening of the first hour of the documentary “Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness” will be shown, followed by an in-person conversation with Kee Dunning, a Billings-based licensed therapist, and Montana teen Maclayn, both of whom are featured in the film.
An evening film screening and discussion will run 7-9 p.m. in Havre High School Auditorium. Both events are open to the public.
The two-part, four-hour documentary, executive produced by renown filmmaker Ken Burns, tells the story of the youth mental health crisis in the U.S. through first-hand accounts from 22 young people ages 11 to 27, two of whom live in Montana, including Maclayn.
Amber Spring, an event organizer and the assistant dean for student wellness and leadership at Northern, said events like these are instrumental in starting conversations about mental health and reducing stigma, which could ultimately save lives.
“The stigma, misunderstanding and shame associated with mental illness and suicide have left too many people with mental health challenges feeling alone and isolated and less likely to seek help,” Spring explained. “We want our young people, especially, to understand that mental health is important and know it’s safe to ask for help if they’re struggling.”
For more than 40 years, Montana has had one of the highest suicide rates in the U.S. and its youth suicide rate is twice the national average, according to reports from the Department of Public Health & Human Services.
“Although the suicide statistics for Montana are sobering, that’s not to suggest that hope is lost because, ultimately, suicide is preventable,” said Krystal Steinmetz, executive director of the Havre Public Schools Education Foundation, and one of the event’s organizers. “Simply talking about mental illness, often and openly, is one of the best things we can do to reduce stigma. Those conversations can be uncomfortable at times, but they’re necessary.”
The film screening and discussion are part of Hill County’s Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month activities, which included a suicide awareness walk Sept. 14, and will include a QPR suicide prevention training Monday, Sept. 25, 3-5 p.m., in he Student Union Building Conference Room at Northern. For information on or registration for the QPR training, contact Spring at [email protected].
The film and follow-up discussions led by Dunning, a well-respected therapist and educator who specializes in crisis intervention, are designed to educate viewers about the mental health challenges youth are facing so when they ask for help, adults know how to best support them. A grant Dunning received will cover the cost of the Havre events.
Following the film screening and discussion, Dunning is presenting her “Kee Concepts of Communication” workshop Thursday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. to noon in Hensler Auditorium. The workshop, which is focused on helping adults build skills to have discussions with youth about their mental health, is free and open to the public.
As a special note for educators, Montana PBS has created resources and lesson plans for “Hiding in Plain Sight” for grades 9-12. The materials are free and can be downloaded at http://www.montana.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/kenburnsclassroom/film/hiding-in-plain-sight .
People need to know they are not alone. If anyone or someone they know is in crisis, whether they are considering suicide or not, they can call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 to speak with a trained crisis counselor. Anyone who doesn’t want to talk on the phone can text MT to 741741 for free mental health support. The call and text lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Havre Public Schools Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2000 to provide a margin of excellence in support of the educational needs of students by raising, accumulating and disbursing funds to improve, enhance and support the educational opportunities for the students of Hill County.