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Billings mental health counselor inspired by White House visit

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Posted at 9:19 AM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 11:19:19-04

BILLINGS - A Billings psychotherapist was among those at the Alberta Bair Theater for the Billings premier of "Hiding In Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness."

Before that, she was at the White House for a special showing, which she says has added more motivation for her to help.

First Lady Jill Biden honored the filmmakers and those appearing in the film on June 22.

"I'm proud to welcome you to the White House for this special screening of hiding in plain sight," Biden said.

Billings psychotherapist Kee Dunning came back from Washington D.C. with even more enthusiasm for helping people overcome mental health challenges.

"When you capture the attention of the biggest house and in our land, then she was very adamant about wanting to move things forward, " Dunning said.

Reports show Montana has the third-highest rate of suicide in the country, according to the Department of Public Health & Human Services.

And Wyoming is consistently higher than other states, according to the Department of Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, nearly 46,000 people committed suicide in the United States in 2020.

"The White House thought it was that important to highlight to highlight that topic," Dunning said.

Dunning says some of her inspiration came from just seeing the White House.

"We're sharing in this history, this rich history of the most amazing country in the world, the United States," Dunning said. "I was just like holy buckaroos like I get to be here."

She says that worldwide there is a mental health crisis and she would like everyone to see the film.

"The crux of this film is to show and to teach about mental health challenges and concerns and not to be afraid and not to be scared, but to talk and to use our words," Dunning said.

The film shows patients that have been helped by Dunning.

"It broke my heart," Biden said. "But there was so much hope there too because they had all found a way from that darkness toward the light."

Dunning said she has been working with the Office of Public Instruction and has a goal of showing the film in every school district in the state.

"I want Montana to be the leader that says you want to change the way that you're treating people then you do what they're doing in Montana," Dunning said. "They're talking. They're getting people help. They're loving on people, and they're showing respect."