LOS ANGELES, May 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- As Mental Health Awareness month comes to a close, the Directing Change Program and Film Contest announced Friday their state winners who are using creative ways to fight stigma around mental health challenges and prevent suicide.
The fourth annual youth film contest, and the largest to date for the program, empowers young people to start important conversations in their community by creating 60-second films about suicide prevention and mental health. Sponsored by Each Mind Matters: California's Mental Health Movement, and the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), the first through third place statewide winners were announced at an awards ceremony at the Alex Theater in Glendale on Friday, May 20.
Youth and young adults from Redwood High School in Marin County, Franklin High School in Sacramento County, Redwood Voice in Del Norte County, VYVA Inc. in Solano County, Canyon High School in Orange County and San Francisco State University in San Francisco County were among the first place winners in six different categories.
"Directing Change provides young people with an opportunity to use a creative medium like film to start important conversations about mental health among their peers and our future California leaders," said Dr. Wayne Clark, Executive Director, California Mental Health Services Authority. "California counties are proud to work together through CalMHSA to lift up the voices of a generation committed to breaking down stereotypes."
The program received 451 submissions from 1,133 youth and young adults from 91 high schools and 35 colleges and youth organizations, representing 31 California counties. Participating students competed regionally by submitting 60-second films in one of three categories: suicide prevention, mental health matters and a new category, Through the Lens of Culture. The newest category encouraged participants to choose suicide prevention or mental health as a focus, but with additional requirements including creating a film in a language different than English and/or with focus on how different cultures view these topics.
"As first-generation college students, Amanda Deda and Alejandra Vaca envisioned the creation of a short film that would express some of the barriers they faced when accessing mental health services," said Vincent Lam, advisor of the first place film "The Language of Healing" in the Through the Lens of Culture Mental Health Category. "They hope that this film will deliver a culturally relevant perspective to those facing similar experiences, and will encourage these individuals to seek support through the healing power of community."
The Directing Change Program & Film Contest encourages and provides a platform for young people to speak out, openly and honestly about mental health. Studies show that although half of teens who are thinking about suicide tell a friend, fewer than 25 percent of those friends tell an adult. By directing change the young filmmakers encourage their peers to know the warning signs for suicide and give them the knowledge to connect a friend to a trusted adult or resource.
All submissions were judged by volunteer experts in mental health and suicide prevention, members of the media, and professionals in filmmaking and video production. This year, statewide films were judged by celebrities, including Eric Close, Lakeith Stanfield, Amy Landecker and Cleo Coleman. The films were judged based on how the entries creatively explored the topics while also adhering to guidelines about how to safely and appropriately communicate about suicide prevention and mental illness.
State Winners are as follows:
High School Mental Health Matters
First Place: "The Journey"
Redwood High School, Marin County
Students: Benedict Conran, Thomas Hayden Smeltzer, Asha Cummings and Dominique Cruz /
Advisor: Peter Parish
Second Place: "Off the Script"
Pleasant Valley High School, Butte County
Students: Ryan Martin and Kaden White / Advisor: Michael Peck
Third Place: "Naiveté"
Canyon High School, Orange County
Students: Nick Jackson, Susie Anderson, Ethan Burk, and Cassidy Keith / Advisor: Alex Graham
High School Suicide Prevention
First Place: "The Guides of Life"
Franklin High School, Sacramento County
Students: Ryan Santiago / Advisor: Brad Clark
Second Place: "A Hand of Hope"
Mission San Jose High School, Alameda County
Students: Hanlin Wang, Michelle Zhang, Emily Shiang, Vincent Chiang / Advisor: Nina LaRosa
Third Place: "Leap of Faith"
Murrieta Valley High School, Riverside County
Student: Benjamin Finnie / Advisor: Ella Harrison
Youth and Young Adult Mental Health Matters
First Place: "Real Life Super Hero"
Redwood Voice, Del Norte County
Students: Jedidiah Hawkins and Makenzy Williams / Advisor: Jacob Patterson
Second Place: "This is Claire"
Active Minds at UC Davis, Yolo County
Student: Marielle Pastor / Advisor: Eva Schepeler
Third Place: "Phone Call"
Mt. San Jacinto College, Riverside County
Students: Walter Popiela, Sixto Romero and Jessica Casillas / Advisor: Bing Bruce
Youth and Young Adult Suicide Prevention
First Place: "I Have Walked in Your Shoes"
VYVA Inc., Solano County
Student: Mason Conner / Advisor: Lynn Larsen
Second Place: "Brighter Days"
Pasadena City College, Los Angeles County
Student: Nataly Adame / Advisor: Jennifer Garson
Third Place: "Hope Melody"
City of Indio Teen Center, Riverside County
Students: Edgar Ortiz, Andrew Martinez, Arely Zarco and JuQuan Roberts / Advisor: Laura Alvarez
Through the Lens of Culture Mental Health Matters
First Place: "The Language of Healing"
San Francisco State University, San Francisco County
Students: Alejandra Vaca and Amanda Deda / Advisor: Vincent Lam
Second Place: "Through Our Eyes"
Ruben S. Ayala High School, San Bernardino County
Students: Ashley Chuang, Nelly Hejazi, Melanie Pak, and Nikhil Vettikattu / Advisor: Kevin Russell
Third Place: "Hear Me"
Elk Grove High School, Sacramento County
Students: Curtis Wong, Morgana Parsons, Cathrina Paclibar and Mauriana Raye / Advisor: Jennifer Moore
Through the Lens of Culture Suicide Prevention
First Place: "隠された思い (My Hidden Feelings)"
Canyon High School, Orange County
Students: Nicole McCready and Kana Okafuji / Advisor: Alex Graham
Second Place: "Depression Has No Culture"
Clovis East High School, Fresno County
Students: Maegan Ankenman, Adryauna Speer, Caitlin Luster, Malia Willison / Advisor: Derrick Davis
Third Place (tied): "Suicide on Indian Country"
Humboldt County Transition Age Youth Collaboration, Humboldt County
Student: Tristin Severns / Advisor Name: Leah Lamattina
Third Place (tied): "My Friend Tyler"
Whitney High School, Placer County
Students: Matt Dazey and Noah Lopez-Koen / Advisor: Benjamin Barnholdt
To view the full list of the regional winners and their winning films visit: http://www.directingchange.org/2016-winners/
About Directing Change
The Directing Change Program & Film Contest is part of Each Mind Matters: California's Mental Health Movement. The program offers young people the exciting opportunity to participate in the movement by creating 60-second films about suicide prevention and mental health that are used to support awareness, education and advocacy efforts on these topics. Learning objectives surrounding mental health and suicide prevention are integrated into the submission categories of the film contest, giving young people the opportunity to critically explore these topics. Program participants - whether they are making a film, acting as an adult advisor, or judging the films - are exposed to appropriate messaging about these topics, warning signs, how to appropriately respond to someone in distress, where to seek help, as well as how to stand up for others who are experiencing a mental health challenge. In addition, schools and organizations are offered free prevention programs and educational resources. For more information visit www.directingchange.org
About the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA)
CalMHSA is a partnership of California counties working together to prevent mental illness and promote mental health by implementing Prevention and Early Intervention programs that are a critical part of the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63). The Directing Change Program & Film Contest is one of 25 programs that are part of comprehensive statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. For more information, visit www.calmhsa.org.
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SOURCE Directing Change Program & Film Contest