In observance of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, the award-wining documentary, “Hear Our Voices: Transforming the Children’s Mental Health System,” will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 7, at the Pollard Auditorium on the Oak Ridge Associated Universities campus at 120 Badger Road. The screening is free and open to the public.
“Hear Our Voices” recounts the journeys of nine children and young people as they fight to overcome mental health issues and reach a place of recovery and wellness. Their stories are framed by comments from leading mental health professionals, who outline the need for change in children’s mental health care, a press release said.
As seen in the film trailer, one story features Naquisha, a 16-year old poet, who, “despite drive and ambition,” is held back by the mental health challenges of bi-polar and post-traumatic stress disorders. Given the opportunity to gather a network of support around herself, she is “taking control of her life and making plans for college and beyond.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness states in its report, “State Mental Health Legislation 2014: Trends, Themes, and Effective Practices,” that half of all long-term mental illness occurs by age 14, and 75 percent become evident by age 24. In its “State Advocacy Report 2010,” the organization suggests more than 65,000 children in Tennessee are challenged by mental health issues.
According to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services 2014 Data Handbook, the state ranks in the bottom 20 percent of states for the highest percentage of children aged 2-17 who have one or more emotional, behavioral, or developmental condition.
“Hear Our Voices” was created by David and Patricia Earnhardt of Earnhardt Films Inc. in Nashville, in association with Tennessee Voices for Children, a nonprofit that advocates for the implementation of a statewide system of care for children of Tennessee. Winner of the Best Documentary Feature at the 2013 River’s Edge International Film Festival, “Hear Our Voices” has since been an official selection at numerous film festivals, according to the website.
The film screening is sponsored by the Grace Lutheran Church Mental Health Ministry of Oak Ridge, Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services, NAMI-Oak Ridge, and Oak Ridge family medicine physician, Dr. Ann Carter.
For more information, call (865) 385-3556.