Film screening, discussion on skiing and mental health in Beaver Creek on Tuesday

The screening of the film ‘The Mountain in My Mind’ will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.

Courtesy picture

After the Padillas lose their 15-year-old son to suicide, the family is on a mission to help ensure Jack Padilla’s memory is never forgotten, and they try to save lives in the process. road.

Jack’s older brother, John Padilla, achieved this by producing the film “The Mountain on My Mind: Mental Health in the Ski Industry”. The approximately hour-long film screenings at Vilar on Tuesday, preceded by a 30-minute conversation about mental health in our mountain community.

Corey Levy, Wellness Director of Vail Resorts, Casey Wolfington, Senior Director of Community Behavioral Health of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, and Nadia Guerriero, Chief Operating Officer of Beaver Creek Resort, will lead the roundtable before the film .

“There’s a ton of value in having these conversations…it’s going to be a powerful night,” said Rachel Levitsky, communications manager for Beaver Creek Resorts, adding that Vail Resorts is “committed to refocusing on the members of our team,” in part by expanding its mental health program, Epic Wellness, earlier this year.

The program offers free therapy for employees, dependents, and roommates, as well as professional wellness coaching and a broader clinical network, which includes therapists specializing in the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities.

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The film

“The Mountain in My Mind” is the first film to feature skiers through the “suicide belt” in the Rocky Mountain region. The film opens with a statistic that suicide, which is 2.9 times higher than the national average in the suicide belt, is the number one cause of death in the Rockies. Several factors contribute to this, including the stigma of mental health and the “paradox of paradise”, which seems to promise happiness but presents many challenges, such as the cost of living, a transient population living far from family support and the simple so that wherever you go, there you are.

The film features seven skiers, plus John Padilla himself, talking about their challenges and the solutions they have found, particularly within the ski community.

It opens with a 20-year-old woman from Montana who talks about her struggles growing up with a mother “bogged down in drug addiction” and how she wishes she hadn’t been so secretive about her issues when she was younger. Next, a Massachusetts man recounts how he became addicted to painkillers, which caused him to crash after a skiing injury.

“Skiing gave me a reason to be sober, something I love,” he said in the film, adding that while skiing tends to be characterized by a party culture, skiers are very supportive when saying no to a beer.

Other athletes, like Clare Chapman of Alta, Utah, talk about developing an eating disorder and how, if she could give her 12-year-old any advice, it would be to believe in herself, to listen to themselves and talk to others. about his challenges.

A Connecticut man recounts his first manic episode in college and how skiing helps him balance through the winter, while another shares how lost he felt in life during the pandemic (and how skiing is an expressive outlet). Yet another athlete talks about sexual assault and the denial, loneliness and self-blame that resulted from being assaulted by someone she trusted.

One of the toughest and most healing interviews John Padilla encountered while making the film came from California resident Forrest Coots, who also lost his younger brother to suicide. In the film, Coots encourages people to be nicer to everyone “because you don’t know everyone’s story or what might have happened 10 years ago.”

“It made me realize that I’m not alone either,” John Padilla said in a phone interview. “The take home message that no one is alone in the ski industry hit home. The film’s main message is that it’s okay to not be well – please, please, please, have a chat with a friend about your Mental Health.

John Padilla echoes that sentiment in the film, explaining how his 15-year-old brother, an empath, was on life support for nine days after the suicide attempt (which came after a day of shredding on the mountain). He passed away on February 14, 2019.

“As a society, we have a duty to be careful of our empaths, because you better believe they’re watching out for us, and I promise you it’s a lot easier to have a conversation than to bury your brother,” he said, adding that as a lifelong skier who grew up in Colorado (he now lives in Montana), skiing has helped him through loss.

The process

He first started thinking about producing a 5-10 minute film in the fall of 2021, but as he started talking to skiers across the country, “everyone seemed to know someone. who committed suicide,” he said. “I pitched (the ski film idea) to companies, and they were everywhere.”

What started small quickly turned into a conversation with over 100 people, with interviews ranging from 30 minutes to four hours. He soon realized that suicide prevention was “too narrow – the market is wider”, so after 37,000 miles of driving across the country to film, he finally edited the project down. ‘to a handful of athletes featuring different skiing modalities, from park to big mountain, and encompassed mental health topics ranging from assault and substance abuse to suicide and eating disorders.

“We really wanted to make sure it had a broad reach,” he said.

Throughout the film’s run, he heard countless people talk about how it changed their lives, including people who said to him, “You saved my life. I was thinking of killing myself, but now I am talking to my mother or taking medicine or going to treatment…”

“The movie is not a depressing one,” he said. “The goal is to elevate (viewers) throughout. We have focused on editing tips. I would like people to come away with this sense of hope that the skier mental health crisis is something we can talk about and will do together.

In fact, John Padilla found more healing while making the film as he discovered a “community of people in the snow industry who are truly passionate about mental health.”

He is currently fundraising for his upcoming film on mental health and skiing, although the template is slightly different, as it follows Olympians from four different countries, and is more designed to present skiing in a more artful and creative way. an even more uplifting way.

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