Launched in 2021, Shut Out the Stigma, a partnership between Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas City and the Kansas City Royals, is an initiative focused on raising awareness about the importance of behavioral health. Their latest effort, the documentary Not Good Enough, boldly challenges parents and coaches to think about how their actions before, during, and after a game can negatively affect the mental health of our youth athletes. It’s an unflinching look that will resonate with viewers long past the final frame.
We sat down with the director from Plan A Films, Chusy Haney-Jardine, to discuss his thoughts on the film’s message and what he learned during the process.
QUESTION: What did you take away from your interviews with parents, coaches, youth sports directors, health care experts, and children, as part of the documentary?
A few key learnings for me:
Attitude and effort trump outcome by a thousand miles.
Communicate less transactionally and more transformationally (watch the film for more on that).
We are all doing our best as parents. We tend to model how we were parented, or take a 180-degree approach, so our habits, actions, and suppositions exist out of what we know. Nobody gave us a manual, so give yourself a moment to reflect.
QUESTION: Do you have any advice for parents who are struggling to find a healthy way to support their children before, during, and after competing?
I think removing outcome, and nurturing process is best. Make it ok for them to express themselves, regardless of the content of that conversation, and let them come to you. Make it safe for them to say whatever is in their heart. And encourage good effort and good attitude. Simply tell your kids, “I love to watch you play.”
QUESTION: You’ve made many traditional films over your career but in contrast, why do you think documentaries are such a powerful medium when trying to deliver a message?
I think fiction, for the most part, entertains but remains ineffective as a catalyst for real change. Documentaries let me see real humans overcome and triumph, and in their stories, I see my own.
QUESTION: In your mind, how important is the message that mental health is just as vital as physical health for a person’s overall wellbeing?
What good is a fit body with a sick mind? Both need to be nurtured equally. Hats off to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and the Royals for funding this effort.
QUESTION: As someone who’s lived around the world, is there anything about Kansas City that has stood out for you in the time you’ve spent here?
My dad is from KC, and I’ve always had great affection for all things KC. As a little kid, I remember getting on my knees and praying the rosary so that George Brett would hit a home run to take the Royals to the playoffs in front of the TV in Venezuela. My brother knelt beside me. He had a glove; I had a bat. To this day I believe that my prayer helped George connect for a homer. Further, I went to school in Atchison, KS during my last year of high school, with eyes on attending Benedictine College across the border to pursue seminary. Oh, and my dad went to KU, so there you go, I am biased!
To watch the documentary and learn more, visit ShutOutTheStigma.com