Video contest empowers OC students to start conversations on mental health

A dozen mental health videos produced by students from Canyon, Foothill and Katella high schools in Orange County have earned regional honors in the Directing Change Program & Film Contest, and four have advanced to a statewide round of judging.

A screenshot of "Dear Friend" by students from Foothill High School

“Dear Friend,” a short film created by students from Foothill High School, is among 16 submissions eligible for state honors in the Directing Change Program & Film Contest.

Sponsored by Each Mind Matters and the California Mental Health Services Authority, the sixth annual contest was created to empower young people to start important conversations in their communities by creating 60-second films about suicide prevention and mental health.

Canyon High in the Orange Unified School District produced 10 videos that either placed in the top three or earned honorable mention within their categories for the region that includes Orange, San Diego and Imperial counties. A video from Foothill High in the Tustin Unified School District also won first place and a submission from students at Katella High in the Anaheim Union High School District earned third-place honors.

Three of the Canyon High videos and the winning Foothill entry are now among 16 films eligible for statewide honors.

Nearly 2,500 students competed in five regions throughout California, submitting 742 minute-long videos from 164 schools and community-based organizations. Contest categories included Suicide Prevention, Mental Health Matters and Through the Lens of Culture, which required a language other than English or a focus on another culture.

“The youth mental health video contest is a very engaging and interactive learning opportunity for high school students,” said Dr. Lucy Vezzuto, OCDE’s coordinator of social-emotional learning and student mental health. “In preparing the public service announcements, students educate and immerse themselves in the issues of stigma, which prevents kids and families from seeking help, and ways that peers can support one another and be a bridge for treatment and support.”

“I encourage educators to share the thoughtful work of our OC students in their classrooms, staff trainings and community gatherings,” she added.

Statewide winners are set to be announced on May 22 at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles at The Theater at Ace Hotel. In the meantime, here are the 12 winning videos from Orange County:

Suicide Prevention Category

FIRST PLACE (Advances to state round)
“Dear Friend,” Foothill High School, Tustin Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/258183065

SECOND PLACE AND DIRECTING CHANGE TEAM PICK (Advances to state round)
“Don’t Be Afraid to Ask,” Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/258204827

THIRD PLACE
“I Am,” Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/258168943

HONORABLE MENTION
“Dancing Again,” Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/259244170

Mental Health Matters Category

FIRST PLACE  (Advances to state round)
“First Steps,” Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/259377555

SECOND PLACE
“I Am,” Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/257981169

THIRD PLACE
“Behind the Pictures,” Katella High School, Anaheim Union High School District
https://vimeo.com/251738608

HONORABLE MENTION AND DIRECTING CHANGE TEAM PICK (Advances to state round)
“Hear the Music,” Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/258154008

HONORABLE MENTION
“#StatusofMind,” Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/258168306

Through the Lens of Culture Category

SECOND PLACE (tied)
“Proud to Be Me,” Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/258208917

HONORABLE MENTION
“What Will the People Think?”, Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/257978139

“Talk About More,” Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
https://vimeo.com/258020822

For a complete list of regional winners, visit www.directingchangeca.org/films.