Mental Health Matters Day Movement

As part of Each Mind Matters, California’s Mental Health Movement, a variety of programs are encouraging diverse voices to join the cause. By submitting films about mental health and suicide prevention to the Directing Change Student Film Program, youth and young adults from around the state are volunteering to join the discussion and have their voices heard.

2015 MHMD Proclamation-DC students Emma Spiekerman_Jonathan Coria_& Amanda Lipp_NAMI Youth Advocate
On May 19, 2015, student participants from the Directing Change Student Film Program gathered in Sacramento to participate in Mental Health Matters Day. The previous afternoon, two Directing Change students joined Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) on the State Senate floor to receive a proclamation declaring May 19 Mental Health Matters Day in Sacramento. NAMI California worked to organize these events and offer the youth an opportunity to share their stories with our state leaders.

Senator Richard PansmallOn the morning of May 19, all of the Directing Change students gathered in the Governor’s Press Conference Room to meet with legislators and share their stories. Here, State Senators Jim Beall and Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) stopped by to speak to the Directing Change students, encouraging them to continue their efforts and emphasizing the importance of their work. In addition to the inspirational words of the senators, two of the student participants spoke about the importance of addressing mental health and suicide prevention at a young age. Emma Spiekerman, an alumni participant who received statewide honors in the first year of the contest for her film “More than a Mental Illness” was one of the student speakers. Emma spoke about how the contest changed her life, causing her to switch her major from filmmaking to psychology, and participating in a variety of mental health efforts at college.

After the morning session, students went to meet with their local legislators. The students seized the opportunity to speak on behalf of their peers, highlighting the importance of mental health and suicide prevention efforts that focus on the teen and college years.

UCLA_Jonathan Coria_smallAs one educator who attended with their students noted, “[the day’s events] are investing in students’ lives by inspiring future generations to pursue the medium of video in order to influence, and investing in society by getting out the word that every mind truly does matter.”

These youth come from across the state, from every background and circumstance. More than likely, when they decide to make a film for Directing Change, they have no idea that they were about to be part of something bigger. Through the experience of meeting other youth, standing in the State Capitol and having their voices heard, they now understand they are part of a movement.