Anxiety disorders are the among most prevalent mental health challenges in Canada, affecting an estimated three million adults according to Statistics Canada findings.
While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, many who suffer don’t seek assistance. Those statistics, coupled with lived-in experience, prompted Lisa Gallie of Big Sun Beachwear and Tanning to bring a screening of Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety to the Vernon Towne Cinema Feb. 28.
“My daughter, about four years ago, experienced a traumatic event that sort of changed her thought process,” said Gallie, who has suffered from anxiety herself. “She didn’t leave my side for nine months. She was completely traumatized.”
Gallie sought help immediately. And with assistance from North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society (NOYFSS), her daughter Jordyn was able to receive life-altering therapy to help her live with anxiety.
However, three weeks ago, an event at school triggered her flight response.
“I went to school and found out what happened,” Gallie said. “I thought, ‘No. There’s no way I’m ever going to get her back into school.’”
But, thanks to lasting results from therapy, Jordyn surprised her mother the next day and went to school as if nothing had ever happened. Gallie posted about the experience on Facebook and questions poured in from her social networks about how to get support for children suffering from anxiety disorders.
“That was a que from the universe to get people talking about anxiety,” Gallie said. “Anxiety is the number one fastest growing mental health issue today. This movie is sort of a catalyst for discussion.”
Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety is a 56-minute documentary by IndieFlix that features interviews with those who have dealt with the disorder, mental health professionals and the highly-decorated Olympian and mental health advocate Michael Phelps.
“When I watched the movie after the lived-in experience we have, I was one of a very small percentage who went to seek mental health help right away,” Gallie said. “It struck such a chord for me. What I was witnessing were things that had actually come out of my daughter’s mouth verbatim.”
The goal behind Angst, produced by Scilla Andreen and Karin Gornick, is to spark global dialogue about anxiety, to share the stories of those who it impacts and to help find solutions. The documentary also delves into the root causes and sociological effects of the disorder and resources available to combat anxiety.
“We felt it was important to make a movie that could raise awareness to open up the conversation and provide hope,” said Andreen, IndieFlix CEO and Angst producer. “So many people struggle with anxiety and have trouble talking about it. We want to change that.”
The film has been lauded by mental health professionals for that message.
”Angst is the most important, eye-opening documentary you will see this year. Through first-hand accounts and expert commentary, the film leads you with great care through the many facets of teen anxiety, a massive, misunderstood and rapidly growing cultural epidemic. The teenagers in the film describe their suffering with stunning openness, grace and courage. I found myself reacting on two fronts. As a clinician, I was relieved that the filmmakers were able to capture what so many of my young clients are suffering in these complicated days: the bullying, perfectionism, panic, obsession, and too often, hopelessness,” wrote Dr. John Duffy, clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent. “Whether you are a teenager, parent, educator or a mental health professional, you simply need to see this movie, and soon. And every school needs to screen this film. It’s that important.”
And that’s a goal Gallie is helping champion by bringing the film to Vernon audiences.
“I could never have done it on my own,” Gallie said. “I need to share this message. People don’t understand that anxiety affects everyone in different ways.”
Following the screening of Angst, local experts from NOYFSS will lead a panel discussion and question and answer session.
While the film focusses on deep subject matter, Gallie said it isn’t the typical sad look at the state of affairs, but rather an important film with an uplifting message.
“It is possible to overcome anxiety. The first step is to talk about it,” Gallie said. “I just want people to know there is hope.”
Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety screens at the Vernon Towne Cinema Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $7.50 online only at www.angstmovie.com.