Here. Is. Better. Documentary

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HERE. IS. BETTER. DOCUMENTARY FILM

A soldier’s story is always personal, but never more than in HERE. IS. BETTER. This powerful feature length documentary offers a uniquely hopeful and impactful perspective on a rising mental health crisis in America. Every year, nearly 13 million adults suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the U.S. alone. Veterans are up to three times more likely to have PTSD than civilians.

HERE. IS. BETTER. follows four of these Veterans, each with diverse backgrounds and service experience, as they undergo the most clinically effective, evidence-based trauma psychotherapies for PTSD. Individuals featured in the film include former presidential hopeful Jason Kander, who shocked many when he left the Kansas City mayoral race in 2018 to seek treatment; a Vietnam War Veteran still haunted by events that occurred over 50 years ago; and the voices of so often overlooked women Veterans, all seeking the keys to unlock their places of hurt and pain. With unprecedented access to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, HERE. IS. BETTER. Interweaves these inspiring stories of men and women Veterans overcoming the debilitating effects of PTSD with treatments that can work, bringing hope to millions.

In 2015, Executive Producer William F. Brandt, Jr. was driven to act after reading an article in the New York Times highlighting the high rates of PTSD and suicide in a particular Marine battalion that had served in Afghanistan. “I knew that effective treatments for PTSD were out there, and I was determined to help people who are suffering get better,” says Brandt.

When Producer Sian Edwards-Beal first met with Brandt, she was troubled by the statistics that he shared. “When Bill told me that more members of the military had died by suicide than in combat since 9/11, I was shocked,” explains Edwards-Beal. “I thought, ‘How can everyone in the country not know this and not be doing something about it?’ I instantly felt connected to Bill’s desire to effect change.” What Brandt conveyed in that first meeting also resonated with Producer David Beal. Beal was running National Geographic Entertainment during the making of the film Restrepo, which documents the 15-month tour of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. “In Restrepo, I saw the devastating impact PTSD had on the soldiers in this platoon. Now I had the opportunity to unpack and understand what they were experiencing and truly help people.”

When Jack Youngelson came on board as director, he also saw the potential to bring about change. “The way to do this, I strongly believed, was to tell the story of treatment and recovery through the direct experiences of the Veterans themselves – in their lives, in their therapy sessions, in their relationships with family and friends.”

The mission was clear to the entire team. “We wanted to create a documentary that would give people hope,” explains Brandt. “We wanted to show people suffering from trauma that good help is out there and to encourage them to take that first step. And at the same time, to motivate those in the community to reach out a hand to help.” “[The mission] has always been a motivator for the work. The entire team understood that peoples’ lives were at stake,” states Edwards-Beal.

The team began talking to Veterans, therapists and others involved in the treatment and understanding of PTSD. Youngelson explains, “What we were hearing loud and clear was that there was something missing in the national conversation around what it meant to live with and be labeled as someone diagnosed with PTSD. There was both a fatigue – and even a resignation – that a common refrain was that Veterans under the strain of PTSD were somehow “broken,” and they were burnt out by that being the overarching takeaway.”  Video Trailer below….


A more complex and nuanced picture began to emerge. It became increasingly clear that PTSD was not one thing; it was many things. How it presented itself could be exponentially different; families were often the unknown and unseen collateral damage; often, it could take a decade or more for a Veteran to go seek help.

Many people do not seek treatment for a variety of reasons, such as not wanting to revisit the trauma, not understanding the treatment options, and feeling apprehensive due to the stigma surrounding issues of mental health. But there are evidence-based therapies that can truly provide relief and lead to a better life.

The film addresses these barriers to treatment by chronicling Veterans undergoing the three therapies with the most clinical research support: Prolonged Exposure, Cognitive Processing Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Edwards-Beal explains, “At first we were overwhelmed by the variety of PTSD treatments out there, but it became clear when talking to mental health experts which ones we should highlight in the film.” These trauma-focused psychotherapies use different techniques to help people process their traumatic experience. “These inspiring stories show that good treatment is out there, what it’s like to go through it, and that it can make a difference,” says Youngelson.

Here. Is. Better. Is out on digital now, see: https://hereisbetter.org/

 

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In 2015, Executive Producer William F. Brandt, Jr. was driven to act after reading an article in the New York Times highlighting the high rates of PTSD and suicide in a particular Marine battalion that had served in Afghanistan.

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