Film encourages adults to ‘Listen’ to youth


Inside the dark gymnasium that typically harbors the echoes of basketball or volleyball fans, 1300 students, along with teachers and staff, paused their everyday lives on Dec. 1 to witness Erahm Christopher’s film “Listen,” an emotional movie about mental health.

Every day, students deal with mental health issues. Depression and anxiety are often misrepresented issues. Unaware peers may be unintentionally ignoring cries for help from loved ones. Reaching out to peers reassures them they are not alone in their struggle and means more to them than one would know. Every human being in the world deals with problems, but teenagers struggling to maintain positive mental health are particularly vulnerable. Friends, with or without a mental illness, are the biggest preventers of suicide.

Students viewed the film “Listen” after assistant principal Mary DeArmas asked for teachers to volunteer to take classes to watch the film in the gym, which was repurposed to look and feel like a movie theater.

According to Erahm’s site,, the story revolves around a high school counselor who wants to save troubled students: a teen who resorts to violence, an emotionally-disconnected athlete, a damaged transfer, and a confused boy who questions the way life works. They all run away from their respective issues and cope differently.

The movie highlights youth continuously crying for help without adults answering. The official movie website states “‘Listen’ tells the story of what happens when we don’t pay attention. It’s about all of us and how we impact each other.”

As a child, Christopher  lived in a small town as a farmer in Northern California with a deep work ethic and achieved a BA at Santa Clara University.

Early in his adult life, Christopher’s older brother was killed in a tractor accident and this changed his life forever. After graduating from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, he launched an education program Teen Truth through Horizon Entertainment, LLC, which he co-founded (according to his IMDB page).

He later directed multiple award-winning films under Teen Truth through the TV network Bravo! and co-authored the book “Teen Truth: Why Youth Have Something To Hide.”

His work is said to have inspired many youth programs as well as state legislation (IMDB). He has talked to over 500 schools and has preached themes of a connected community, creativity and empowerment. His opinions of self-love and “upstander mentality” seem to hover around him, according to DeArmas, who organized the film’s screening.

From reading about Erahm Christopher, one sees the empathetic soul he has. His websites have features including “Learn” and “Teach.” “Learn” illustrates the stories of others using his platform like “Perry” who stated “Too many people in the world do not take responsibility for their own life. They don’t realize that their life is the way it is because of the choices they made.  If your life is coming apart, it is your own fault. I am tired of people making excuses. It’s only you that’s living it.”

DeArmas said the movie showing was offered to every school in Broward and Western agreed to participate. Christopher created the film to bring awareness to mental health in hopes of  helping some to open up about their issues.

Many of the student viewers were emotional, loved the film and took it to heart, while others did not connect as much. Junior Anna Silva loved the movie and said she has seen social changes from it.

“The teachers care more about our mental health and let us talk to them,” Silva said. “It made an impact on me seeing that other people go through similar pains.”

Silva also said she noticed students crying from the film. She believes it should be shown next year but be organized by student selection instead of purely teacher volunteers.

Fellow junior Olivia Johnson had a more skeptical view of the film.

“When I saw the film originally, I was in shock. […] I do not think it accurately depicted any sort of mental illnesses,” Johnson said. “As someone who has a family history of depression and suicide, again, this is just comical. Many people who had bullied me for being depressed were emotionally moved by the film, proving the point that they are ignorant on these topics all together.”

On the other hand, sophomore Brandon Gerber said he enjoyed the concept behind the film and thought it presented a great message. The opportunity to interact with faculty about these issues was a common positive of the film viewing, according to students.

“It’s the most powerful movie I’ve ever seen,” said junior Katelyn West, who has now seen the film twice, once on her own and once at school.