Community invited to view film, discuss anxiety

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 24, 2019


GROSSE POINTE WOODS — In an effort to help students with anxiety and open up discussion about its impact on kids, the film “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety” is coming to Parcells Middle School,  20600 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe Woods.

According to a Grosse Pointe Public School System press release, the district, with the help of the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club and the Family Center of Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods, will hold a special screening of the documentary at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2.

The goal is to open up a dialogue between local families, community leaders and experts on anxiety and provide tools, resources and hope to families who are dealing with anxiety. Individuals ages 10 and older are encouraged to attend.

Anxiety can be described as having intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating and feeling tired may occur as physical symptoms when feeling anxious. “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety” is a film through the IndieFlix Foundation, which is based in Seattle. Scilla Andreen and Karin Gornick are the documentary’s producers.

Through interviews in the film, children and teenageers discuss their anxiety and the impact it has had on their lives and relationships. They also share how they’ve found solutions and hope. “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety” includes an interview with Olympic champion and mental health advocate Michael Phelps.

“The conversation surrounding mental health really hits home for me. Many people don’t understand how debilitating mental illness truly can be, and even more than that, how common it is, yet people are afraid to have the serious discussions about it,” Phelps said in a prepared statement. “I welcomed the opportunity to be a part of ‘Angst’ to further the dialogue around mental health and to help people understand the impact anxiety has on our mental state and encourage people, especially kids, to ask for help.”

The documentary includes discussions with mental health experts about the causes of anxiety and its sociological effects, along with the help, resources and tools available to address the condition.

Bringing in the film is a response to national and local data showing that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health challenge in the U.S. facing youths, according to the World Health Organization.

According to Parcells Middle School counselors Carla Palffy and Kim Radant, all GPPSS middle school students will see the documentary at their respective schools — Parcells, Pierce and Brownell — during the day Oct. 2.

According to Palffy and Radant, anxiety disorders are highly treatable, but only a third of those suffering receive treatment.

“Our hope is that the candidness and bravery portrayed in the movie will inspire our community to start the conversation,” Palffy said in an email. “We believe that everyone needs to know that anxiety disorders are real, common and treatable instead of viewing them as a personal choice or something to be ashamed of. Getting help early is crucial in giving people the tools they need to feel better.”

After viewing the 45-minute film Oct. 2, Grosse Pointe Farms clinical social worker Nicole Runyon will lead an informative discussion with the audience.

“(Anxiety) is so common in this generation of kids,” Runyon said. “I think it’s multifaceted.”

One culprit? Technology, including electronic devices and smartphones, and “that constant feeling they have to be on their device,” Runyon said.

“Social media really affects the kids and their mental health,” Runyon said.

Problems can arise when students view posts in which they feel left out, don’t measure up socially or feel like they’re missing out on something significant. In addition, students are constantly hearing grim stories on the news, which can affect their mental health.

“There is some scary stuff on the internet,”  Runyon said. “They get the news right when it happens.”

Runyon also said students worry about their grades “so they can get into a good college. There’s a lot of academic pressure to be perfect so they can be successful in life.”

Helicopter parenting also can cause anxiety because it “prevents the kids from individual experiences,” Runyon said. “Parents need to help them be more individual and do things on their own.”

Tickets are free to view “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety.” To register, visit