Enochs High School videographers have more than finals on their minds over the next few weeks as judges consider their film for a state award in the Directing Change Student Video Contest.
Winners in the contest, sponsored by the California Mental Health Services Authority, will be announced on May 13, which is Mental Health Matters Day. The competition’s goal is to empower young people to promote suicide prevention and end the silence about mental illness among their peers. The Enochs effort was one of 22 regional winners out of 432 submissions. The statewide winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Sacramento.
Written and produced by Enochs High students Caleb Meyer, Jacob McNeilly, Justin Benziger, Brandon Wilcox, Mariah Davis and Megan Johnson, “Perception” depicts a scenario in which young people, through positive and supportive language, counter a friend’s negative perception of herself and thoughts of suicide.
The powerful, minutelong video starts with a teen turning on a television, where a video of herself looks cruelly back and says, “Nobody cares about you. You’re worthless. You have nothing to look forward to, and no one would even notice if you were gone.”
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As the room darkens, she lets the remote fall from her hand. Then friendly faces appear, saying encouraging things. She smiles. The words “One voice can help prevent suicide” roll forward on the screen.
“It was a great pleasure for us to have the opportunity be a part of a program that helps to promote suicide prevention,” said student filmmaker Meyer. “I have had friends who have struggled with thoughts of suicide and was glad to be able help raise awareness of such an important topic through this public service announcement.”
Entry for this year’s contest was extended to University of California students. Some 112 high schools and nine universities submitted 60-second videos in two categories: suicide prevention and ending the stigma of mental illness.
Confronting stigma matters when it comes to young people, experts say. Approximately 1 in 5 teens experiences a mental health challenge in a given year, yet many are afraid to talk about it and do not get the help they need.
All submissions were judged by volunteer experts in mental health and suicide prevention, members of the media and professionals in filmmaking and video production. All videos were judged based on how they creatively explored the topics while adhering to guidelines on safely and appropriately communicating about suicide prevention and mental illness.
Winners were selected from Butte, Calaveras, Los Angeles, Madera, Merced, Orange, Placer, Riverside, San Diego, Solano, Sonoma, Sacramento, Stanislaus and Tulare counties. Any school in California that had a video submitted by a student will receive a suicide prevention or mental health program for their school through donations from various nonprofit organizations.
The Directing Change PSA contest is funded by the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act, Proposition 63. It is one of several prevention and early intervention initiatives implemented by the California Mental Health Services Authority, an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. For more information, go to http://calmhsa.org.