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“Angst” Delivers Powerful Message to Mendham Community

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“Angst” Delivers Powerful Message to Mendham Community

Emma Mangino, Freelance Writer

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On January 24, the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance sponsored a screening of the film “Angst” at Ridge High School for residents of Bernards Township and neighboring communities in Morris and Somerset counties.

 

What is “Angst,” you may ask? It’s a film that was created to raise awareness about anxiety disorders in children and teens and break the stigma surrounding them. Since it was produced in 2017, it has been featured at over 100 screenings in 24 states and 5 countries.

 

The film features children and teenagers who discuss their anxiety and its impact on them, plus an interview with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who has suffered from anxiety throughout his life. The documentary also includes expert commentary on the various causes and effects of anxiety, as well as resources for those who are struggling with the disorder. After the film, attendees were able to participate in a Q&A session with John Mopper and Michele Levin, co-owners of the Blueprint Mental Health Center in Somerville.

 

Kaitlin Cartoccio, the community health educator of Bernards Township, brought this presentation to Bernards in order to emphasize the importance of mental health. She laments that even though serious mental illness is becoming increasingly more common – especially among young adults – there is a widespread lack of information and understanding about it. “It’s been a goal of mine working at the health department to bring mental health to the forefront,” she explains.

 

“You see [mental illnesses are] happening more and you’re wondering… Can we bring the information to parents? Can we bring the information to students? Can we encourage students who are struggling to have a conversation? Can we talk to people in the schools how to talk to the kids and parents how to talk to the kids?” In showing “Angst” to the community, she sought to do just that. Countless attendees left the Ridge High School auditorium with a deeper understanding of just how debilitating mental disorders can be  and a clearer idea of how to help the people in their lives.

 

But it doesn’t end there. “We [don’t] want it to stop after just one year or after just one marking period….we wanted it to move on further and keep it a priority for our town and our surrounding communities,” declared Cartoccio. In the past few years, mental health resources in the Morris Area have significantly expanded: Mendham and Chester recently joined the Morris County Stigma-Free Alliance, which focuses on spreading awareness of mental health and substance abuse disorders as well as providing local treatment. Mental health first-aid classes are being given all across the state. Things are definitely changing for the better, but it’s critical that everyone – teachers, parents and educators alike – is able to learn.

 

Here are the facts: According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.” There are many different types of anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which each have a relatively distinct set of symptoms. However, there are some symptoms common among any type of anxiety, including a constant sense of impending danger, having an increased heart rate, hyperventilating, trembling and shaking, feeling weak, having trouble sleeping & having trouble concentrating. These symptoms can occur with or without stressors. (For complete and in-depth information on anxiety disorders, see the links below.)

 

So, what should you do if you begin to feel symptoms of anxiety or if something just doesn’t seem right? If your stress begins to affect your everyday life, it’s time to reach out. Levin offers professional advice:  “If you feel like you need help… go to somebody that is an adult. Don’t go to friends. Even though it’s nice to get support from friends… help is really going to a school counselor, a student assistance counselor, a parent… and allowing them to help you get linked with somebody [who will] get [you] the help that you need. If you avoid it, it gets worse. Don’t avoid it. Be alright with knowing that, yes, it might end up where they have to call your parents or something… but if you go to a school counselor, somebody that you trust that’s an adult, you’ll be able to help them figure out what the next step is.” If you notice that someone else in your life may be suffering, encourage him or her to do the same.

 

The showing of “Angst” has merely begun the conversation about mental illness in our community. Let’s keep it going.

 

To learn more and/or seek support, the following resources are available.

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety

https://morriscountystigmafree.org/resources/

https://angstmovie.com/resources/

https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/young-people

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/educators

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

 

About the Writer
Emma Mangino, Freelance Writer

Emma Mangino, a sophomore at Mendham High School, writes for the culture and school news sections of the Patriot. She has always loved to write and is...

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