Blog: The Today Show

I was joined on set in the New York NBC studios by high school student Philip Grossman, the founder of T.E.R.M – an educational reform movement inspired by the film –and psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor. The moderator was Meredith Viera. A short clip ran featuring selections from the movie, brief comments from some of the students who are now in college and reactions from community screenings.

Meredith was curious about what parents and teachers were saying about depression. I relayed my sense that everyone we talk to confirms that there are tremendous pressures coming from multiple sources and that up until now people feel quite alone as if they don't feel they have any power to change things. That's why we feel the film is important so that people can get together, find alliances and become advocates for change that serves young people. The film is just the beginning of a process towards change at many levels.

Dr. Taylor talked about her teenager that has migranes and stomach problems from stress. We have relentless demands placed upon kids with too little down time. Meredith asked Philip Grossman to describe the stress he feels as a high school student. Philip said he feels it mostly from the tests. "What worries me is that we are really not focused on learning any more. It's all like a competition. We have a competition culture that seeps into the education system. The pressure we have is unneeded."

Phillip says he tries to pace himself, tries not to take too many AP courses and do things just to try to get into a good college. He knows other students that are taking numerous advanced placement courses because they believe that they otherwise won't get into a good college.

Meredith spoke of the national movement inspired by the film and wanted to know where one would start to take action. I mentioned that we have a health crisis alongside an education crisis and we don't have to wait for policies to change or for college admissions procedures to change. Any parent, student or educator can get involved by bringing the film to their community. We can make it a reality by coming together as communities, demanding action from officials and embodying the change that we want to see happen.

Dr. Taylor said that the other important thing is having a sense of purpose. "We have our kids pushing and pushing and they don't see what the purpose is and how we talk about that as families."

Click here to see the video.