Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at a Film Screening at the White House for PBS’ Hiding In Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness
East Room | White House
I’m proud to welcome you to the White House for this special screening of “Hiding in Plain Sight.”
You know, a lot of the stories that we’re going to see today are hard to watch.
It’s impossible not to be moved by the pain that these young people and their families share.
As a parent, the only thing we want to do is protect our children. We do everything we can to help them grow up safely.
If they break a leg, we put them in a cast.
If they have strep throat, we get them antibiotics.
Mental health is health. But the solutions to address these challenges aren’t always clear cut.
The journey to treatment is rarely a straight line and it can be hard to find the resources that you need. Far too often, struggles are cloaked in secrecy and shame.
About a month ago, we invited a group of incredible young mental health leaders here to the White House.
Like everyone in this documentary, they shared their struggles—often through tears.
They talked about being afraid, about hiding who they are. It broke my heart.
But there was so much hope there, too. Because they had all found a way from that darkness towards the light.
They found it through treatment. Through community. Through storytelling and other creative new ways to build resilience.
One young man said, “It was beautiful when I realized, wow, I’m not so alone anymore.”
For many years, an alarming number of young people have struggled with mental health challenges—and the pandemic has made it exponentially worse.
The isolation. The anxiety. The grief.
We have so much work to do to help our children heal.
We have so much work to do to make sure that no one feels like their pain has to be hidden.
We want young people everywhere to know: We see you. We hear you. And we will work to make this better.
That’s why Joe made this a key part of his Unity Agenda.
He’s working to expand the mental health workforce and invest in counselors and other mental health resources in our schools.
In October, the Department of Education released new resources and evidence-based recommendations for educators.
They’ve also committed to collaborating with the Department of Health and Human Services to address the mental health needs of youth across the country.
And starting in July, all Americans experiencing a mental health crisis, including thoughts of self-harm, can dial “9-8-8” to be connected with trained crisis responders who can connect them to resources.
This isn’t a red or a blue issue. It’s an American issue—a global issue. And we must come together to find better solutions.
Because it’s not going to be easy. But I know that it starts with this: bringing the problem into the light.
Having the conversation. Helping our children—and everyone who suffers from this disease—understand that they aren’t alone. None of us are.
So, I want to thank Ken Burns, and directors Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers for creating a documentary that can help us do just that.
Ken has such a gift for breaking open the stories we don’t always see.
And I especially want to thank the brave young people who took part in this.
Would all of you stand?
It takes incredible courage to tell your story. To be honest about the struggles you’ve faced and say, “I’m not OK.”
And it’s on us to meet that courage with action. To do everything in our power to give you what you need to heal.
So, thank you. You are a light to so many lives and I want you to know that your President and I are grateful for your courage. Today is about you.
Thank you to everyone for coming out this afternoon.
And now, Ken Burns.