September 28, 2023

Angst: Building Resilience Statewide Initiative

California Department of Education
News Release

California Department of Education
News Release

Release: #21-79

October 7, 2021

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced an exciting partnership between the California Department of Education (CDE), iNDIEFLIX Education, the Department of Health Care Services’ (DHCS) CalHOPE program, and Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky initiative to provide Angst: Building Resilience, a critical youth mental health support program, to districts that serve middle and high school students to help address the increasing mental health challenges faced by students.

“This fall, with students returning to classrooms and mental health needs at an all-time high, our goal is for California schools to have robust and historic levels of mental health programming to provide critical support to students and families,” said State Superintendent Thurmond. “Angst: Building Resilience” and its accompanying easy-to-use curriculum will help elevate the voices of students who are living with emotional distress so they will feel heard, validated, and supported.”

State Superintendent Thurmond and the CDE have been working to expand school-based health services, and Thurmond recently authored mental health legislation that has resulted in new resources for schools to use in expanding mental health staff and offerings. Increasing social and emotional support and wraparound services for students who may be facing additional hardships during the pandemic is a key priority for Thurmond and the CDE.

The goal of Angst is to raise awareness, connect students with support, and provide hope and coping strategies. The film features interviews with children and young adults discussing the impact anxiety has had on their lives during the pandemic. Angst also features a special interview with one of the greatest athletes of all time, Michael Phelps, who has courageously shared his own mental health challenges and helped catapult the important conversation into the mainstream.

“The conversation surrounding mental health really hits home for me. Many people don’t understand how debilitating mental health challenges can be, and even more so how common it is. Yet people are afraid to have serious discussions about it,” said Phelps, Founder of the Michael Phelps Foundation, which promotes water safety, healthy living (physical and mental) and the pursuit of dreams. “I welcomed the opportunity to be a part of Angst to further the dialogue around the importance of mental health, help people understand the impact anxiety has on our mental state, and encourage people, especially kids, to ask for help.”

CalHOPE Program Director Dr. Jim Kooler said, “Our CalHOPE Student Support initiative is helping to advance positive social and emotional learning environments in our school communities, both in person and virtual. Angst will help our cause as we continue supporting children, youth, families, and teachers during the public health emergency.”

The documentary-based program provides a connection to resources, classroom and family discussion guides, and exercises to help youth build resilience and emotional well-being. The program also equips educators with much-needed, easy-to-use tools to support their students.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges to students, educators, and parents. Children already coping with mental health conditions have been especially vulnerable to the changes. Now experts are examining the broad impacts on students as a result of school closures, physical distancing guidelines, and isolation and other unexpected changes to their lives.

“We are grateful for this statewide partnership that is making a culturally relevant program available to improve youth mental health,” said Jennifer Christian-Herman, Ph.D., Executive Director of Behavioral Health at Blue Shield of California. “The Angst program will help further guide teachers’, parents’, and caring adults’ conversations with youth to promote emotional well-being and continued success in school.”

“We have been working with schools for more than 10 years, and now more than ever, students need and can benefit from our film-based programs that teach resilience, provide hope, and normalize the conversation about mental health. Angst: Building Resilience opens up the conversation in a powerful and positive way. It’s easy to access and includes tools to keep the conversation going,” said Scilla Andreen, CEO of iNDIEFLIX and Angst producer.

Registration for the Angst: Building Resilience program is now available. The film will begin screening in public middle and high schools across the state on October 11, 2021. The iNDIEFLIX original film, produced by Scilla Andreen and Karin Gornick, is expected to reach more than three million students across the state in 2021–22.

To bring the Angst: Building Resilience program to your school district at no cost, please visit the iNDIEFLIX Education Angst web page
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iNDIEFLIX Education
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creates, supports, and promotes social impact films, learning modules, and tools to create positive change in the world. These programs screen directly in schools and communities to foster conversation at the student and family level to nurture a more social, emotional, empathetic culture.


The CDE oversees the state’s diverse and dynamic public school system and collaborates with educators, schools, parents, and community partners in an effort to prepare students to live, work, and thrive in a highly connected world. Part of this collaboration includes a commitment to increasing mental health services to support the socio-emotional well-being of all students. CDE’s Project Cal-Well strives to increase awareness of and improve mental health and wellness of California’s students and provide training for school personnel to detect and respond to mental health issues.


CalHOPE builds community resiliency and helps people recover from disasters through free outreach, crisis counseling, and support services. CalHOPE
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is a Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and run by the Department of Health Care Services.


Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax-paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Shield Association with over 4.5 million members; over 7,500 employees; and more than $21 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid, and Medicare health care service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $150 million to the Blue Shield of California Foundation in the last four years to have an impact on California communities. For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit the Blue Shield of California News Center
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 7, 2021