MEDIA RELATIONS: TODAY, DIRECTING CHANGE

Students create powerful videos about suicide prevention: ‘It could save a life’

By: Scott Stump, Today.com

Ben Finnie never wants another family to feel the pain that his endured last summer when his older cousin committed suicide.

Kaleigh Finnie, 19, a bubbly college student from the Woodlands, Texas, took her life on June 15, 2015, leaving her family to wonder what they could have done to prevent the tragedy. speak-loud-enough-mental-health-teens-today-tease-160524_e512195cfc376e6d477a99becfdd7840-1-today-inline-large

“I think if she had have reached out, her parents and her friends and family would’ve done everything they could for her,” Ben Finnie told TODAY. “Talking to them in the aftermath, they were so broken up. They feel like it’s their fault, when it’s not. They would’ve done anything to help her.”

Finnie, 16, is now helping to spread the word about suicide prevention and erase the stigma of mental health issues by working with the Directing Change program in California. The student at Murrieta Valley High School is one of more than 2,000 California high school and college students who have created 60-second public service announcement videos about suicide and mental health to raise awareness around the state.

To continue reading click here to be directed to Today.com.

MEDIA RELATIONS: CALIFORNIA HEALTHLINE, DIRECTING CHANGE

Youth Film Contest Seeks To Reduce Stigma Of Mental Illness

By: Ana Ibarra, California Healthline

Two years ago, Nick Walker won first prize in a short film contest that requires one-minute clips on suicide prevention or other mental health topics. speak-loud-enough_screengrab

He felt a little strange about winning, he said. Prior to the contest he had not thought much about raising awareness of mental illness. He’d joined the contest only because the teacher of his film class at Canyon High School in Anaheim had suggested it. Little did he know that it would soon figure prominently in his family life.

Walker’s video, “If We All Speak Loud Enough,” starts with teens silently mouthing their diagnoses into the camera, accompanied by subtitles: depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder. By the end, they’ve all found their voices.

People with mental illness often feel they don’t have the power to speak up.

Nick Walker

Walker, now a 20-year-old student at Chapman University in Orange County, describes the experience as “eye opening” and “life changing.” He credits the program that sponsored the film competition with giving him and his family the tools they needed to help his younger sister, who was diagnosed with depression and anxiety shortly after the contest.

Walker is one of 4,000 students in California who have participated in the Directing Change Program and Student Film Contest since it started four years ago. The goal, program officials say, is to reduce stigma and cultivate acceptance of mental illness among young people, ages 16 to 25. They say it’s working.

To continue reading click here to be directed to California Healthline.