Jordan High opened its doors to patrons near and far on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018 as parents, students, children, and friends gathered to watch a screening of an anxiety-themed documentary called “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety,”
Visitors travelled from as far as Provo and Bountiful to watch the film and listen to a panel of experts discuss the prevalence of anxiety among youth and teens today. In partnership with the Deseret News, Canyons District hosted the event as a kick-off to Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which takes place in September.
Some 400 people attended the screening and posed questions to a panel of experts, including Tori Gillett, Canyons’ school counseling program specialist; Lizbeth Velazquez, a Canyons social worker at Jordan High and Mount Jordan Middle; Karin Gornick, the film’s producer; and Jenny Howe, a therapist featured in the film. Canyons’ Director of Responsive Services BJ Weller introduced Deseret News opinion editor Boyd Matheson, who moderated a panel discussion that centered around what causes anxiety, whether parents are responsible for causing it, and what students can do to cope.
“We need to talk about how to tackle the problem of suicide,” Matheson said. “As much as this is about preventing a tragic end, it’s also about taking advantage of all of our resources to help our youth and teens.”
Canyons District provides help to students in crisis through the Department of Responsive Services. The department offers crisis support, counseling services and at-risk prevention, among other services. The District is taking a “blended approach” to making sure students have access to mental health professionals while at school.
This year, 10 extra student support specialists have been hired, and every CSD schools has been assigned a school psychologist and a counselor and/or social worker. This ensures that schools have the advantage of using the varied skills that school psychologists, counselors and social workers all bring to the table.
The problem of anxiety is one that troubles both parents and youth throughout the country, but it is important to confront the issue, rather than run away from it, experts from the panel said. The first step to accepting anxiety is to share it with others.
“Start talking about it with someone you trust,” Velazquez said.
Parents can help their students by acknowledging their students’ struggle, but not necessarily taking away the thing that is making them uncomfortable, such as, picking them up from school if the student calls and asks to come home because of anxiety, Howe said.
“As parents, we want to fix, and we want to shelter, and that’s OK to some extent, but we’re not allowing our kids the opportunity to not be OK,” Howe said.
The documentary screening was the fourth showing of the movie at an event hosted by the Deseret News. The newspaper s hosting eight events throughout the state to raise the conversation about anxiety and share information on how to respond. More information from the Deseret News is available on the newspaper's website.
“I hope as you walk out of here tonight you will know you are not alone,” Matheson told the audience Thursday. “You are one of us. And we need to keep this conversation going.”