The Bears on Pine Ridge: A Powerful Documentary on Youth Mental Health Crisis

“The Bears on Pine Ridge” (2024) is a feature documentary that offers a raw and honest portrayal of a Native American community grappling with a devastating youth mental health crisis. Airing on the WORLD Channel (PBS), this film sheds light on the urgent need for mental health resources on the Pine Ridge reservation.

A Community United

The documentary revolves around the remarkable story of a Lakota elder, affectionately known as “Tiny.” Tiny becomes a beacon of hope and empowerment as he guides a group of young suicide survivors on a journey towards healing and awareness. Together, they strive to break the silence surrounding mental health issues and create a support network for those in need.

Through intimate interviews and poignant storytelling, “The Bears on Pine Ridge” captures the resilience and strength of the community as they confront the challenges of youth mental health head-on. The film highlights the power of unity and the transformative impact that can be achieved when individuals come together for a common cause.

A Call for Mental Health Resources

The documentary serves as a wake-up call, shedding light on the dire need for mental health resources on the Pine Ridge reservation. It brings attention to the lack of accessible and culturally appropriate support systems for Native American youth facing mental health challenges.

By sharing the stories of those directly affected by the crisis, “The Bears on Pine Ridge” aims to raise awareness and spark conversations about the importance of mental health resources in underserved communities. It emphasizes the significance of providing culturally sensitive and holistic approaches to mental wellness.

The film also highlights the role of education and community outreach in breaking the stigma surrounding mental health. By fostering open dialogue and promoting understanding, it seeks to create a supportive environment where individuals feel comfortable seeking help and sharing their experiences.

An Inspiring Journey of Empowerment

“The Bears on Pine Ridge” is not just a documentary; it is a testament to the power of resilience, hope, and the human spirit. It showcases the incredible strength of the Lakota community as they come together to support one another and advocate for change.

Through Tiny’s guidance, the young suicide survivors find solace and empowerment in their shared experiences. Their journey is a testament to the transformative power of storytelling and the importance of community support in overcoming adversity.

The film challenges societal norms and encourages viewers to question the existing mental health infrastructure. It prompts us to reflect on the systemic barriers that hinder access to care and advocate for change.


“The Bears on Pine Ridge” is a thought-provoking documentary that sheds light on the urgent need for mental health resources in Native American communities. By sharing the stories of those affected by the crisis, it aims to raise awareness, break the silence, and inspire change. Through the lens of resilience and empowerment, this film serves as a call to action, urging us all to prioritize mental health and work towards creating a more inclusive and supportive society.