NewsCovering Kern County


Kern county students recognized for mental health, suicide prevention achievements

Contest promotes artistic expression around mental health
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Posted at 5:28 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 20:28:58-04

KERN COUNTY, Calif. — The Directing Change Program & Film Contest announced the regional finalists in the ninth annual student contest encouraging young people to create short films and art projects about suicide prevention and mental health.

Students at the Career Technical Educator Center are among the regional finalists being recognized for artistic achievements in mental health and suicide prevention.

The contest is part of statewide suicide prevention and mental health efforts administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority. The program’s newest category “Hope and Justice” encourages young people to express how they cope during tough times and find the hope to continue moving forward.

As our youth lived through one historic event after another this year, we saw mental health levels decline in the midst of global health and social events. Directing Change supported youth with learning resources focused on healthy coping and self-care, and by providing an outlet for creative expression, said Shanti Bond Martinez, Senior Program Manager. Bond Martinez continued: Our youth filmmakers created inspiring, educational films helped them to stay hopeful and reminded their peers they are not alone. Their determination to create despite all they endured shows how truly resilient they are. This flexibility and strength will no doubt benefit them as they manage through grief, loss, uncertainty and the transition to a changed post-pandemic world.

The pandemic intensified many risk factors for suicide.

This increased the need to focus on supporting these young individuals through prevention and early intervention efforts.

Winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony on Facebook Live on May 18 at 7 p.m.

Region 4 Mental Health Finalists from Kern County

Third Place (TIED): “Baggage

Kern County Career Technical Education Center

Filmmakers: Josiah Bunde, Alejandro Martinez, Gracie Contreras, and Essiah Torres

Advisor: Lisa Krch

Mental health is no joke, and it is crucial to reach out for help. In our film, a person is seen carrying lots of baggage that continuously weighs them down and puts them through constant sorrow. Being very hesitant to reach out, the person is not doing themselves a favor and is only making things worse. However, that soon changes when a bystander walks up to the person and changes everything in a positive way. The interactions and conversations between both people end up helping the young person experiencing depression in a big manner. This truly encompasses the power of reaching out, and is a testament to how helpful talking to someone is.