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Documentary highlighting youth mental illness premieres at Billings Alberta Bair Theater

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Posted at 6:06 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 09:46:53-04

BILLINGS — A new documentary highlighting youth mental illness premiered at the Alberta Bair Theater Monday night. The film follows over 20 young Americans across the country, including two students from Montana.

“When I’m mad on the inside, I’m mad on the outside,” said documentary participant, 16-year-old Gabe Peaslee, a Miles City native.

Peaslee is one of 23 youths who shares his struggles with mental illness in filmmaker’s Ken Burn’s new documentary, "Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness."

Erik Ewers co-directed the documentary with his brother, Chris Ewers.

“If you want to really understand what this is and how it feels, and what it looks like and even where it came from, there’s nothing better than going to the heart of the matter which is our nation’s youth,” said Erik Ewers.

The pair of brothers traveled the country interviewing kids like Peaslee.

“If you don’t talk about them, it’ll come out as anger or suicide. Anything you can think of that’s negative, I guess,” said Peaslee.

From Miles City, Peaslee was adopted when he was just two years old. He’s dealt with abuse from his biological parents.

“Let’s just say it was mostly anger towards my biological parents, and that’s where all my issues brought up,” said Peaslee.

He’s been able to overcome his struggles with the help of his therapist, Kee Dunning, who has been a therapist for over 40 years and is also in the documentary.

“We’ve been in the top five for suicide rates for 10-24 years of age for the past 30 plus years,” said Dunning.

She’s been Peaslee’s therapist for the past five years.

“We have got to better as a state and as a nation to take care of our youth,” said Dunning.

Dunning and the interviewees came back over the weekend from Washington, D.C. "Hiding in Plain Sight" was screened for Congress and for First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the White House.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be able to do that,” said Peaslee.

Ewers hopes the documentary sparks change.

“I hope that parents and their children will watch this throughout the country, and it’ll open up a conversation,” said Ewers.

The crew wishes to inspire those who are struggling to seek help.

“If it takes 100 therapists to find the right one, then it’s worth it,” said Peaslee.

"Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness" premieres at the Alberta Bair Theater on June 27 and 28 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. as well as on PBS. You can reserve free tickets by clicking Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness | Billings, MT Premier (hidinginplainsightdocumentary.com)