Directors' Statements

-Vanessa Roth

“This is not a film I wanted to make. As a mom of 3 kids, It was simply too close to home for me. I have witnessed my children grow up in an era that has heavily burdened them with the weight of the legacy of social, political, and environmental issues, and the onslaught of new technology.

Mix those realities with the inherent challenges of growing up, whatever pre-disposition their genetic makeup gave them at birth and the way they have been  influenced by me and the rest of our family and you have set the perfect table for anxiety to blossom and flourish. So, when Laura first approached me in 2019, I was thrilled that she wanted to make this film - but I just didn't have the emotional capacity to be the one to make it. Instead, I went on to make other films, and my kids kept moving along carrying all they were carrying and coping the best they could.

And then it was 2020. Over the past 2 years I have seen every one of their peers struggle with anxiety to a degree I had never seen before. And while journeying through my own life with my kids, Laura came back to me after production and asked if I'd turn the content she gathered with kids, parents, and experts around the country into a film that might reach into this moment and give some support to the families across the country who are at a loss for what to do to help their kids. This time I said yes, because as close to home as I thought anxiety was in 2019 - now I felt it was seeping through the walls of the house, into our bones; and the best way through it would be to understand it more and to turn my own anxiety into doing  something perhaps meaningful by creating this film that will hopefully be a touch point for kids, teens, and families, as well as a message and call to action directed at policy makers, mental health providers and corporations who target young people.

We have collectively been hit by so much loss, sorrow, fear and uncertainty, especially these past few years, and we as the adults have not been able to assure our kids that there will be light at the end of this rough time. We have never navigated the world they are inheriting so they are on their own to chart a path that only they can lead. But I do the best I can as a mom, knowing I don't have all the answers, but hope that by contributing what I could to making this film that our kids feel seen, heard and supported; and that we as a society make the urgent changes needed to give them all the resources to create community and meaning for  themselves and their future.”

-Laura Morton

“Anxious Nation really started in 2019 with a single post on Facebook: “Kids and Anxiety, who is struggling with it?”As the mother of an anxious child, I wanted to know if what I was dealing with in my own home was happening to other families? I had no idea what these other family were going through because they felt too ashamed, embarrassed—and alone.
That single post gave them permission to share, without guilt or shame. I wanted to understand the many faces and facets of anxiety. So, I set off on a mission to find answers—and solutions. We were an extremely anxious nation long before the pandemic. But when Covid hit, my question about anxiety and who is struggling suddenly felt moot. Because we all were, and millions of us still are. I spent three years deeply exploring the crisis of anxiety and mental health in America, especially its impact on our kids and their families. Our cast comes from different socio-economic, cultural and belief systems, and bravely share their stories of struggle and hope. We also hear insights from the very best experts who are helping them cope. As the richest country in the world, we are failing our children when it comes to mental health. And while it may be easy to point the finger of blame at social media and our devices as the root cause of anxiety, loneliness and social isolation are far greater triggers.I learned we can expect anxiety to show up. And when it does, manage it so that it doesn’t manage us. Better still, we can harness anxious energy and use it for good.”