Experts Discuss Anxiety & "Angst" Doc Featuring Michael Phelps

By Maggie Ethridge 06/06/19

Angst takes a close look at how young people in America are dealing with anxiety.

"Angst" Doc Featuring Michael Phelps

A new documentary, Angst, focuses on the number one mental health crisis in America today—anxiety—and the filmmakers behind it recently took part in a panel discussing the film after a viewing last month.

The documentary was shown to an audience of just under 200 people at The Health Museum, a museum of health and medical science in Houston, Texas, in conjunction with The Hackett Center for Medical Health and Okay to Say.

A panel of speakers discussed the film afterward, including Marcy Melvin, a professional counselor and director of program implementation for child and family policy of Texas’ Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, and Anna Lee Carothers, a former UT chapter president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Angst examines how young people in America are dealing with anxiety. Their worries ranged from the banal to life-changing events that sparked severe, life-altering anxiety.

The sensitive documentary is currently only being screened by request in community settings, although according to the Angst website the filmmakers "hope to make the film available online as well." 

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps discusses his anxiety in the film. The famed Olympian speaks with an anxious boy toward the end of the documentary. Phelps said to the young man, “I just didn’t like who I was. If something was bothering me that would start to come up, and I would start feeling angry or depressed or upset, I would almost ignore it."

"I would shove it even further down, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it, so I would never have to talk about it," he says. "I finally got to a point where it was my tipping point, where I just blew up. I just couldn’t take it any longer.”

The film's producer, Karin Gornick, spoke at the panel discussion. “I’m a filmmaker, but more importantly, a parent. My son was struggling with severe anxiety and it wasn’t until I started opening up to some friends that I was led to help,” she said. “When we found out how treatable anxiety was, I thought, ‘Wow. We can really capture this so other parents don’t feel like they are alone and know to reach out.'”

Melvin shared, “I love how they explained the science behind what happens with anxiety; sometimes feelings can sound like an abstract thing, but anxiety really lies in the brain.”

The list of currently planned screenings for Angst can be found here.

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Maggie May Ethridge is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From a Marriage (Shebooks, 2014) and the recently completed novel, Agitate My Heart. She is a freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, VOX, Washington Post, The Guardian and many others. Find her at her blog Flux Capacitor or on LinkedIn or Twitter.