(CBS Local)– The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but it has been particularly hard for teenagers and kids across America. A new MTV documentary from award-winning filmmaker Alexandra Shiva called “Each and Every Day” examines the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of Generation Z.
The documentary premieres on MTV Tuesday, February 16 at 9pm EST/PST and Shiva talks with nine kids who have attempted suicide or had suicidal thoughts. The film features conversations with teens about some of the biggest issues from the past year such as the pandemic, the economy, a racial reckoning and the isolation of distance learning. Shiva hopes the documentary will be a helpful tool for kids and parents alike during this trying time.
“I like to tackle difficult subjects because we learn so much about resilience and the human condition in these ways,” said Shiva, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I felt like this was a really important film to make. Sheila Nevins had brought the idea to me and she wanted me to do it for MTV. I really felt very strongly that this was something that needed to happen. I understood the intense need for this to be talked about. The thing that I was most surprised about was that from my generation, there’s more of a stigma. I know some of the subjects in the film talk about the stigma, but I was so impressed with the young people and their ability to talk about mental health issues.”
The film was created in partnership with The Jed Foundation, a non-profit that works towards preventing teen suicide. Dr. Janis Whitlock is a senior advisor at The Jed Foundation and she says there is a big difference between just talking about your mental health and doing something about it.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I started to speak to the young people in terms of how the conversation would go,” said Dr. Whitlock. “They’re all incredibly articulate. They were really knowledgeable about their own experiences and able to connect it to the experiences of other people. The combination of young people talking about their stories was just extraordinary. I am really struck by the capacity of Gen Z to talk about these issues. We still see a lot of mental health issues, which points to two things. One, talking isn’t usually enough. It’s a beginning, but it’s not enough. The other is that we’ve increased our capacity to talk about it, but we’ve also increased our inputs.”
“Each and Every Day” airs commercial-free on MTV Tuesday, February 16 at 9 p.m. EST/PST.
If you, a friend or a family member are in need of talking with someone the National Suicide Prevention Line is 1-800-273-8255.