Young California Filmmakers Awarded for Raising Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Awareness

The Directing Change Program & Film Contest which engages students and young people throughout California to learn about the topics of suicide prevention and mental health by creating short films that are used to support awareness, education and advocacy efforts on these topics, announced its winners during a Facebook Live awards ceremony held on May 19, 2020.

The program is one of many initiatives that are part of Each Mind Matters’ comprehensive statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and well-being of students.

In its eighth year, Directing Change received 1,080 films created by 3,475 youth from 190 schools and community-based organizations throughout the state. Seventy-four winners were awarded honors for 30- and 60-second films in categories including:

  • Suicide prevention
  • Mental health matters
  • Animated shorts with a focus on suicide prevention
  • “Through the Lens of Culture”
  • SanaMente for Spanish-language films
  • “Walk in our Shoes”

Each year the awards ceremony also celebrates the outstanding achievement of film and television directors, producers and actors who serve as role models by using their platform to draw attention to mental health. This year’s recipient was the CW’s ‘All American’ which was recognized for its storylines about the character Olivia Baker’s struggle with addiction and journey of recovery and character Layla Keating’s experience with depression and suicidal ideation.

Executive Producer and Cast of ‘All American’

Research shows that the program and film contest is making a difference. A study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago found that participants knew more of the warning signs for suicide and where to find help compared with those who were not exposed to the program. It was determined that Directing Change is effective at increasing knowledge and skills as well as changing attitudes and behaviors related to mental illness and suicide prevention.

To view the films and for a complete list of the 2020 statewide and regional winners, honorable mentions and special recognitions, click here.