Distributor:  The Fanlight Collection
Length:  57 minutes
Date:  2005
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; Spanish
Grade level: College/Adult/Professional
Color/BW:  Color
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Are the Kids Alright?

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Filmed in courtrooms, correctional institutions, treatment centers, and family homes, this searing documentary examines the results of the tragic decline in mental health services for children and adolescents at risk.

Are the Kids Alright?

'In the 1960s, Texas kids were institutionalized. In the '70s they were released into community care that was well-intentioned, with better medicines. Now, they are out there with no care except in the criminal justice system, and that's the only way parents know how to get help to turn their kids in to the police. Is this progress?' Dr. James Boynton, Corsicana Stabilization Unit

This searing documentary examines the crisis in mental health care for children and adolescents at risk. With unprecedented access to families, to the courts, and to psychiatric and correctional institutions, the filmmakers followed several families to document the tragic results of a catastrophic decline in the availability of appropriate mental health services for young people. From everyday family and developmental stresses to severe, clinical mental illness, these families are struggling to get the supports they need, but there is very little help available to them.

Cesar, a young Hispanic boy is severely depressed and has threatened to kill himself. His mother is afraid to take him home, but there is no treatment bed available for him.
Raised by her grandmother, Antonia, tried to cut her wrists after her mother failed to appear for a mother's day visit. She has also attempted to overdose on Zoloft.
Jeremy, a teenager, may also be suicidal. He has threatened his stepmother and injured his younger brother. Unable to afford the cost of a psychiatric placement, his father seeks to relinquish his parental rights, so that the state will be responsible for his care. The judge refuses.

One in ten children and adolescents in the United States suffer severe mental illness. The rate of suicide for teens 15 to 19 in the USA has nearly tripled since 1960. This video documents the painful choices confronting families who have a loved one suffering from mental illness, but also the daily struggles of mental health advocates, service providers, and policymakers in trying to help these youths get appropriate treatment. We see and experience the crisis from a variety of angles, not only those of the children and families themselves, but also of probation officers, a family court judge, state workers and psychiatrists, politicians and lobbyists.

Dr. James Boynton, a psychiatric counselor for the Texas Youth Commission, deals with children and teens who have been sexually abused, who are psychotic, who have been assaulted or who have assaulted and killed others. His are often the only mental health services these kids will ever have. 'I've given up testifying before the legislature,' he says. 'I found out the legislature doesn't really listen to us. So what can you say?'

'Informs and touches the heart. A comprehensive view combined with the reality of mental health care. A valuable addition for collections in psychiatry, psychology, health sciences, and education. Highly Recommended.' Educational Media Reviews Online


Awards

Texas Mental Health Association Award
Best of Austin / Most Pertinent Media
Emmy Award, Outstanding Achievement, Documentary, Lonestar Chapter
United Nations Association Film Festival
Merit Award, Superfest
Western Psychological Association
Picture This... Disability Film Festival

Citation

Main credits

Spiro, Ellen (film producer)
Spiro, Ellen (film director)
Spiro, Ellen (cinematographer)
Bernstein, Karen (film producer)
Bernstein, Karen (film director)

Other credits

editor, Kyle Henry; camera, Ellen Spiro [and 5 others]; music, Fritz Robenalt.


Distributor credits

By Karen Bernstein and Ellen Spiro
Mobilus Media

Docuseek2 subjects

Maternal and Child Health
Psychology and Mental Health
Social Work
Youth Issues

Distributor subjects

Adolescence
Community and Public Health
Healthcare History and Policy
Mental Illness, Brain Disorders
Psychology, Psychiatry, Social Work

Keywords

film; video; documentary; institutionalized; institutionalization; de-institutionalization; de-institutionalized; deinstitutionalization; deinstitutionalized; criminal justice system; police; courts; family court; children at risk; adolescent; mental health services; james l, Boynton; mary elizabeth de ferreire; w. jeanne meurer; melanie gantt; hogg foundation for mental health; meadows foundation; Houston endowment; clinical mental illness; mobilus; mobilus media; family; families; parent; parents; parenting; children; childbirth; social policy; social problems; social issues; drug abuse; drugs; addiction; addicted; alcoholic; alcoholism; narcotic; narcotics; substance abuse; psychology; psychological; psychiatry; psychiatric; mental health; mental illness; brain disorder; mind; behavior; therapy ; disorders ; social work; social welfare; sociology; sociological; "Are the Kids Alright?"; The Fanlight Collection

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