In January, the Hilda Solis High School junior class was assigned to create short public service announcement videos about mental health in their advisory period, which would be submitted to the Directing Change Film Contest. Directing Change is an organization that wants to educate youth about health through multimedia. The films’ topics range from suicide prevention, mental health awareness and even a Spanish language category.
“I didn’t know what to expect, and the way that the students got into it was interesting,” said James Ng, the librarian and media teacher at Hilda L. Solis Learning Academy, who is helping coordinate the films.
One of the PSA videos made by the students showed a group of friends laughing and having a great time with upbeat music. As the laughing and giggles go on, the camera focuses on one kid in the group starting to get sad, and the music changes to a sad type of song.
“I think the majority of the [videos] were good because it shows that the effort was there,” Ng said. “I think it was awesome just knowing all the kids did these videos through their phones.”
I, as a fellow student, witnessed all the students making these videos. A couple weeks in, you could see the students running around after school or during lunch trying to get every reliable clip for their film. Some even went in-depth and brought props and such to make the films more eye-catching.
Alan Paxtor, a junior at Hilda Solis Learning Academy, described his experience and the obstacles he went through while making his PSA video.
“Trying to come up with creative ideas to make a unique video that will stand out to people was challenging, and also trying to come together with my team because we all have different schedules,” Paxtor said.
He also said that the technical parts of the project, such as recording and editing, were also difficult.
As students, some may be busy or inexperienced with video production, therefore, there is no doubt the students will run into obstacles making these videos. It is a new experience for the students but as well a lesson that is being thought about mental health.
The films will be entered into the Directing Change competition competing against PSAs from other schools. The winners win cash prizes and get their films posted on the Directing Change website.
How can these films help? At their best, they will help raise awareness about mental health issues and normalize the idea that everyone is going through something.
“The PSAs are important because it gets us to think about issues beyond our own life, and to make us more aware,” Ng also said.
Although people may think others look okay just by the smiles they show, there is always that inner circle in them that might be looking for help.