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EYE ON EDUCATION: CYC explores anxiety through film

April 13, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - To address the growing concern of anxiety, especially in today's teens, the Lake Placid/Wilmington Connecting Youth and Communities Coalition will screen the documentary "Angst" at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24.

The event will feature a viewing of the 56-minute film, refreshments, door prizes and local mental health professionals from the region. The event is free and open to the public.

"Angst" follows young people and mental health experts as they explore the causes and effects of anxiety in children and teens. Director Matt Skerritt and producers Scilla Andreen, Karin Gornick made the film to promote awareness of the most common form of mental illness.

Lake Placid Elementary School teacher Jason Leon is the president of the CYC, a Lake Placid village trustee and has anxiety himself.

"People would say to me, 'try not being sad or anxious,'" Leon said, "Well if I could, I would. I also have attention deficit disorder. Sometimes people would say, 'try to focus.' Again, if I could, I would."

The CYC was originally created to help teens with alcohol and drug relief, but over the years, the program started addressing a wider variety of topics and adversities that concern youths.

"Anxiety is one of the more difficult topics to talk about because there's such a stigma about it," Leon said, "but because it's such a difficult topic to broach, we felt like we should jump on this. One of the motivating factors is there are students that because of anxiety they have attempted suicide. Through that and other warning signs, the 'Angst' movie came up."

Leon said they chose the film because it's not just a collection of professionals talking at the camera about anxiety. Much of the film features first-hand accounts of teens suffering from the condition.

Some people think anxiety is just more commonly reported now and was generally ignored and untreated in decades past. However, mental health experts such as Dr. Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, think anxiety is actually on the rise.

In her article,"Why So Many People Are Stressed and Depressed" in Psychology Today, she said that three contributing factors to rising cases of anxiety are weaker relationships between friends and family, people are focused more on money and image and that people's expectations are just too high.

Leon agreed with those sentiments.

"The combination of things that I've read and from asking professionals is that schedules are busier," Leon said. "There's a higher intensity of responsibility in academics, athletics and extracurricular clubs. There's also an aggressive online component as well. Kids are highly concerned with how they are perceived on the Internet. So not only do they have those traditional sorts of anxieties of maturing and going through high school, but now there's the added pressure of having to do so much in order to achieve the feeling of 'Am I good enough?'"

Leon said the key to fully understanding anxiety and removing the stigma is education.

"Because anxiety is a 'newer' thing," he said, "there's a tendency to believe it's not real. There's a lot of work to be done in order to say, 'Hey, this is a real thing. This isn't just a student who is nervous about something. This is a chemical, social and psychological issue.'"

Leon believes "Angst" is a great way to educate people and possibly make them a little more empathetic to a common and real condition.

"The film addresses anxiety as a whole," he said. "I've have had a panic attack or two, but I'm fortunate. There are people who suffer from them frequently to a point where it's incapacitating. The goal is to start the conversation."



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