“Buried Above Ground,” a documentary about PTSD

Martin Donovan, Staff Writer

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Active Minds, counseling services, and the social work department sponsored a screening of “Buried Above Ground” on April 12. The screening was followed by a discussion with audience members.

“Buried Above Ground” is a documentary featuring three people who have post-traumatic stress disorder over a six-year period.  The film follows an Iraq veteran, an evacuee of Hurricane Katrina, and a domestic abuse survivor to illustrate how trauma and PTSD affect people differently.

“Something that really jumped out to a lot of people was how the film really captured the way that people who experience PTSD live their normal lives and go about navigating their symptoms and trigger responses to different aspects of their everyday lives,” Active Minds President Madeleine Ross (‘20) said.

Counselor Bobbi-Jo Molokken echoed this sentiment, but added that the film captured the diverse experiences of people living with PTSD without being harmful to audience members.

“It does a nice job of showing a variety of traumatic situations and how the various symptoms of PTSD can play out in individuals,” Molokken said. “They [showed] enough of the stories to convey their message without having to do it in a way that didn’t need to be traumatic to watch as a viewer.”

Additionally, Molokken said that the film is applicable to Luther’s campus, as many community members have endured trauma in some manner.

“Many of the students we work with have experienced some form of trauma,” Molokken said. “Because of how trauma impacts the brain it can make learning really challenging. Anyone who has experienced trauma carries that with them in some way. Staff and faculty will be influenced by their own traumatic experiences as well.”

Besides capturing the different ways people live with PTSD, “Buried Above Ground” also depicts the stigma of trauma.

“[The documentary] paints a wider picture of society’s stigma against people who have endured trauma,” Ross said. “Especially in the three ways the people in the documentary [who were] profiled were experiencing in their own lives.”

According to Ross, the documentary’s depiction of the stigma surrounding PTSD echoes Active Minds’ mission to educate and end stigma concerning mental health.

Active Minds is a chapter of a national organization based in Washington D.C. and has been active on  Luther’s campus since 2011. According to their mission statement, the main objective of the national organization is to establish student-led chapters to change the negative perceptions of mental health on college campuses.

“By developing and supporting chapters of a student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy group on campuses nationwide, [Active Minds] works to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues,” the statement read. “Through campus-wide events and national programs, Active Minds aims to remove the stigma that surrounds mental health issues, and create a comfortable environment for an open conversation about mental health issues on campuses nationwide.”

In addition to screening “Buried Above Ground,” Active Minds is launching a weekly newsletter to educate people on mental health experiences as well as provide resources to students.

“We also wanted to use [‘Buried Above Ground’] as a way to launch our newsletter that we are sending out once a week,” Ross said. “Moving forward we want to stop the stigma on campus by sending resources directly to people.”

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