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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – New Documentary Puts a Youthful Face on #Suicide and #MentalHealth; Aim is to Combat #Stigma


A new documentary that gives voice to and puts a face on the child and teen mental health crisis goes live online Thursday at 7:30 CT when it airs on Milwaukee’s PBS station.

“#You’reNotAlone,” which follows four young people from Wisconsin as they navigate mental health challenges, is a collaboration between USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin and Milwaukee PBS. The young people are fully identified and interviewed in the documentary.

The young people featured have experienced problems including suicidal thinking, post-traumatic stress disorder, bullying and childhood sexual abuse. They first told their stories at one of the more than 30 town halls and community events the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has held on the topic of youth mental health as part of its Kid in Crisis series.

Jim Fitzhenry, vice president of news for USA TODAY Network/Central Wisconsin, says the journalists “went through the pros and cons of doing this and sharing this” with the young people identified.

“People have been really brave and it’s been cathartic for them to do it,” says Fitzhenry. “It’s extremely powerful and it’s healing for people.”



   #JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle



USA TODAY is also running a story on page 1 of its Monday print edition that will closely examine the mental health treatment shortage for young people, such as those in the new documentary. May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

There are many causes behind the sharp increase in #suicides, attempts, and #ideation. Academic, social and economic pressures weigh on students. #Socialmedia can compound #anxiety and facilitate bullying. #Mentalhealth care can be hard to find — particularly for people in rural areas or people with public health insurance.

One in five children ages 13-18 have or will have a mental illness, according to the #NationalAllianceonMentalIllness. But on average, it takes eight to 10 years after the onset of mental illness for a person to receive treatment.


Here are the young people featured:

• Alex Hart-Upendo wrote a goodbye note at age 7 after experiencing severe bullying, Now 12, he is running his own business, selling and donating homemade bowties, and looking forward to the years ahead.

“I think a lot of trans people, trans students especially, suffer from so much mental health because it’s not always an open place in schools to be who you are,” Esser said.

Barrett Poetker first thought about suicide in middle school, where she was being bullied and excluded. Now 19, she’s leading workshops for her fellow college students about mental wellness and studying to be a pediatric physician’s assistant.

“I really hope that I can just work with kids that have the mental health struggles that I had because I can relate to them very well and I hope that I can just help them understand that they’re not alone,” Poetker said.

Reyna Saldana had been sexually assaulted and adopted into a new family by age 4. At age 7, she was left at a mental health facility, and the family never took her back. She went through foster homes, group homes and prison. Now 20, she is sharing her message across the state.

Here’s a mental health toolkit with extra clips and information.

Find help 
If you are in an emotional crisis or supporting someone in crisis, consider reaching out to a helpline:

#NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline: (800) 273-8255

National Crisis Text Line: Text “Hopeline” to 741-741

Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten and Haley BeMiller, Karl Ebert and Andrew Mollica of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin contributed to this report.

Good Health is Mental Health


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