After the recent survey of Wilton High School students by Dr. Suniya Luthar revealed alarming data about the levels of anxiety Wilton students are dealing with, concerned adults have started taking concrete steps to face the problem. One of those steps is showing a free, special screening of the documentary, Angst:  Raising Awareness Around Anxiety, hosted by the Wilton Public Schools, Wilton Youth Council and Wilton Youth Services.

Organizers say the event is designed to start community conversations about anxiety and to provide tools, resources and hope, as well as raise awareness about anxiety.

The screening will take place at the Middlebrook Auditorium on Monday, May 21, at 7 p.m.. The event will feature a viewing of the 55-minute film, followed by an informative discussion led by noted psychiatrist Dr. Aaron Krasner.

Luthar’s recent survey of Wilton High School students found that nearly 30% have clinically significant levels of anxiety and depression, a rate that is three to four times the national norm. In addition to this presentation to parents and the community, Middlebrook School and Wilton High School faculty will have the opportunity to view the movie during special staff meetings.

Through candid interviews, Angst utilizes the power of film to tell the stories of many kids and teens who discuss their anxiety and its impacts on their lives and relationships, as well as how they’ve found solutions and hope. The film also includes a special interview with Michael Phelps, a mental health advocate and one of the greatest athletes of all-time. In addition, the documentary provides discussions with mental health experts about the causes of anxiety and its sociological effects, along with the help, resources and tools available to address the condition.

Admission is free, but registration is recommended, and can be completed online. This event is appropriate for grades 7 and up.

Organizers say that part of the beauty of this film is the openness of the children and young adults featured; for some of them, the Angst project marks the first time they are publicly sharing their experiences with anxiety. The hope is that their candidness and bravery will inspire the community to do the same.

While Angst documents the struggles some people have with anxiety, it also reveals their hope for the future. Noah, a teenager in the film, describes it this way:  “Anxiety doesn’t define me. It’s not just a curse; it also gives me strength.”

“Everybody needs to know that anxiety disorders are real, common and treatable instead of viewing them as a personal choice or something to be ashamed of,” said Dr. Jerry Bubrick, senior director of Anxiety Disorders Center, Child Mind Institute. “Getting help early is crucial in giving people the tools they need to feel better. We just need to start the conversation.”

Phelps, the Olympic swimmer, says open conversation around mental health is key, and that’s why he took part in the film.

“Many people don’t understand how debilitating mental illness truly can be, and even more than that, how common it is, yet people are afraid to have the serious discussions about it. I welcomed the opportunity to be a part of Angst to further the dialogue around mental health and to help people understand the impact anxiety has on our mental state and encourage people, especially kids, to ask for help.”