Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER Premieres Nationwide

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Why the sequel to Screenagers? Adolescence is an emotionally turbulent time, and yet there are many ways that schools and parents can give teens proven skills to handle the turbulence better. The truth is, many parents and teens do not know about these solutions, including me before I dove into this. Now my film/advocacy partner, Lisa Tabb, and I are on a mission to get these skills known and used widely.

We hear story after story of the sad truth about teens’ struggles with stress, anxiety, and depression, but where are the stories about solutions?

Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER was created to do just that. The exciting news is that on October 6th the film will launch into the world. Already hundreds of local premiers are scheduled across the U.S., and in other countries as well.

The messages in the film are hopeful. There are so many important skills parents can use to more effectively support their children—whether it is mild stress or more severe anxiety or depression. I know first hand that employing the skills helps parents feel so much better.

One of my favorite parts of the film concerns screen time issues and how we can build grit in our kids. Following rules is part of it. I started doing many of the skills explored in the movie, and it has vastly improved the dynamic between my teens and me.

Through making the film, I was repeatedly in awe of teens’ efforts to educate and support their peers. One of the stories in the movie follows teens who launched a mental health club at their school. In this club, teens teach their peers communication skills to use when a friend is facing hard emotions and needs support. The club also addresses suicide prevention. When I asked the students why they are doing the club, and why they let me film, they said it was so they could help people, and that even if they helped just one person, it was worth their time.

I started making documentaries in my medical residency in 1998 as a way to share stories to inspire change. I have focused much of my efforts on improving mental health by creating films on the topic and companion campaigns. Some examples of this are with these 3 movies I made: Unlisted: A Story About Schizophrenia (about my father), Crisis in Control, and Hidden Pictures: A Personal Journey into Global Mental Health. And, now Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER addresses the emotional wellbeing and mental health of our youth today. 

For this TTT, I suggest a conversation about the topics the film raises. In particular, what schools, parents, and youth can do to help youth build stress resilience — including emotional agility, communication skills, and screen time balance.

Here are a few questions to get the conversation started.

1. When you hear the words, stress resilience, what do you think of?

2. When you hear the words, emotional agility, what comes to mind?

3. Do you feel like your communication skills go off track when you are experiencing a difficult emotion? Does that ever happen when discussing screen time issues? 

If you want to host a screening of the movie in your community, please fill out this form.

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