Mario Vega
The Deseret News' "Generation Vexed" series was one of six projects across the U.S. to receive the award, which recognizes projects that educate the public about mental illness and break down stigmas surrounding it.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Deseret News' yearlong series on teen anxiety, "Generation Vexed," is one of six projects from across the United States to receive a Mental Health America 2019 Media Award. The award recognizes projects that explore mental illness and addiction, "and in doing so, have educated, informed and broken down stigma and shame around these issues."

Two of the other recipients were major entertainment studios: Amazon Studios, for "Beautiful Boy," a film about drug addiction starring Steve Carrell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan; and ABC television, for "A Million Little Things," a show about a group of friends who handle the aftermath of a friend's suicide.

"Generation Vexed," which was published in 2018, also received two public service awards. It won the William H. Cowles III Memorial Award for Public Service in the 2018 Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press Association Contest, marking the second year that the Deseret News has taken home the prestigious award for public service. The paper also won the award in 2017 for its coverage of Utah's opioid epidemic. "Generation Vexed" also took second place in the Society of Professional Journalists' Top of the Rockies competition in the public service category.

"'Generation Vexed' was a project bringing out of the darkness the crippling effects of anxiety and the associated difficulties of depression," said Doug Wilks, editor of the Deseret News. "Our reporters and editors were humbled by those who told their stories and this recognition acknowledges their willingness to help others find solutions to this problem. This recognition by Mental Health America will further that effort."

Mental Health America is a nonprofit organization that works to respond to the needs of those living with mental illness and promote Americans' mental health in general. The organization's central philosophy is that mental health is "a critical part of overall wellness," and that mental health challenges should be treated as early as possible, before they reach a critical point.

"Generation Vexed" was an eight-part package produced by Deseret News reporters Lois Collins, Sara Israelsen-Hartley, Matthew Piper, Jennifer Graham and Erica Evans. The series covers the scope of anxiety in today's teens; the different factors that contribute to teens' anxiety; the pros and cons of anxiety medication; how anxiety can affect girls and boys differently; anxiety on college campuses; how mental health challenges affect missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and how to help those affected by anxiety.

Each story included a sidebar filled with solutions, tips and tools pertinent to the subject of the article. The Deseret News also compiled a downloadable anxiety toolkit and an interactive graphic full of resources for parents and teens.

Comment on this story

But the series also went beyond articles. The Deseret News hosted eight screenings of the film "Angst," which included a panel discussion featuring experts in the mental health community. Each discussion was followed up by a question-and-answer session, and experts' answers were shared with the community in additional articles. Over 4,100 parents and teens attended the screenings.

In addition, the Deseret News created a Facebook group called the "Deseret News Anxiety Community," in which community members can share resources and stories about dealing with and overcoming anxiety.

The Deseret News won a total of 29 awards in the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press Association contest, including nine first place titles. It also won 42 awards — more than any other media organization — in the Top of the Rockies contest, which covers Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.