San Diego County Films

Directing Change is an evaluated suicide prevention and mental health program with the mission to educate young people about critical health topics through art and promote social justice and health by changing conversations in schools and communities.
Suicide Prevention

Truth Heals

Second Place Regional and Team Pick - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Sydnie Pitzer and Evan Foskett
San Diego County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Gini Mann-Deibert
This film encourages youth to be honest about their mental health struggles and symptoms and shows how it can be an important first step to getting help.

Preventing Suicide

Honorable Mention - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Israel Hernandez and Santo A Diaz
San Diego County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Matt Guarnotta
Reminds viewers that it's important to take suicidal thoughts seriously and to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to get help for yourself or a loved one.

Talking Helps

Honorable Mention - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Belle Ming-Ju Britson and Katelyn Levine
San Diego County
Grade: 9
Advisor: Effren Villanueva
A girl experiences cyberbullying on social media, so her friend asks her directingly if she has been thinking of suicide and offers to go to a counselor.

Depression’s Fuel

Honorable Mention - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Sebastian Soucie
San Diego County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Jovita Cerda
An artistic depiction of the isolation and emotions experienced by a youth with thoughts of suicide, which offers .

Despues de la tormenta

Honorable Mention - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Kimberly Hernandez
San Diego County
Grade: 12
Advisor: Jovita Cerda
A Spanish-language film sharing the thoughts and emotions of a youth with thoughts of suicide, as well as a messaging of hope.

Mind Over Media

Second Place Regional- Suicide Prevention
2021
Artist: Mia Cohen, Ava Wehlage, and Eve Korchkov
San Diego County
Grade: 9
Torrey Pines High School
Advisor: Jeff Owen
Our group chose to focus on suicide prevention because it was the most meaningful to us. Before planning the video, the members of our group deeply discussed quarantine and the effect the pandemic has had on the mental health of teens. We decided to ensure our video emphasized the importance of reaching out to a friend...

We Never Walk Alone

Third Place Regional- Suicide Prevention
2021
Artist: Cameron Britt, Allie Riley, Bryan Tran, Naya Sanchez, Emma Talia, Nicolas Petruzzelli, Alyssa Ruiz and Kyrielle
San Diego County
Grade: 10
Club Elevated
Advisor: Stacy Chiles

By Your Side

2020
San Diego County
Grade: 9
Rancho Bernardo High School
A boy notices his friend is showing some of the warning signs of suicide, so he starts a conversation with her. He says it isn’t her fault and can’t stand by and watch her go through this alone.

How to Help a Friend

2019
San Diego County
Grade: 10
San Pasqual Union School
This film follows a group of friends as they discover a classmate’s struggles and reach out to a trusted adult at school.

The Words that Pull Me Down

2017
Artist: Grace Bachour, Jordan Hayes, Eliee Shahidi, Halima Ander
San Diego County
Grade: 11
Torrey Pines High School
Advisor: Don Collins

Tell Someone

Third Place Statewide- Suicide Prevention
2013
Artist: Megan Drew and Lindsay Stevens
San Diego County
Grade: 9
Del Norte High School
Advisor: Steve Holstrom
A story told in a poem and filmed on stage shows a girl who experiences thoughts of suicide. Her friends and family notice warning signs and reach out to her and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help.
Mental Health Matters

To Help A Friend

2020
Artist: Kaiden Phakeokoth and Adriana Watterson
San Diego County
Grade: 9
Junipero Serra High School
Advisor: Shannon Stracener
One friend is sad. The other friend notices that they are acting different from how they normally are. They go over and talk to them and telling them that they are there for them.

Don’t Wait

Honorable Mention - Mental Health Matters
2020
Artist: Lily Wickham, Grace Smith, Baila Thompson, Mirabel Hunt, Andre Jabbour and Rachel Riddle
San Diego County
Grade: 12
Torrey Pines High School
Advisor: Jeffrey Owen
We created our film to help decrease the stigma around Mental Health by showing that reaching out for help is good. Our main character struggles with her mental health issues but decides to share what she's feeling with a friend. She realizes that there's no shame in reaching out and that getting help improves her life.

This Is Me

2015
Artist: Paige Barrows, Kiya Lopfenstein, Grace Bashour, Paige Staky
San Diego County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Don Collins
A student’s story about how life isn’t always what it looks like on social media and how opening up to friends about mental health challenges can be uplifting.
Through the Lens of Culture

Mentally Changed

Third Place (TIED) - Through the Lens of Culture
2023
Artist: Taniya Cooksey and Shakur Jackson
San Diego County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Eboni Harvey
The filmmakers shared, "Through the video we wanted to share how the effects of our culture as African-Americans can put our mental health in the background of the other problems that we face in life, and that shouldn't be the case. We wanted to stress the importance of having a healthy relationship with your mental health."

Intersectional Mental Health Film

Honorable Mention - Through the Lens of Culture
2023
Artist: Isabella Guerrero and Greyson Zuñíga
San Diego County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Gini Mann-Deibert
A youth interview about the intersection of mental health and Mexican-American culture as well as expectations around masculinity.

Life Expectations

Honorable Mention - Through the Lens of Culture
2023
Artist: Arisbeth Jaimes
San Diego County
Grade: 12
Advisor: Jovita Cerda
As a first generation Hispanic youth, a student faces high expectations and pressure but decides to ask for help from the school counselor.

Hope

Honorable Mention - Through the Lens of Culture
2023
Artist: Natalie P., Lizbeth S., Naralia B., Destiny J., Noami F., Helena P., and Ryan R.
San Diego County
Grade: 12
Advisor: Irma Garcia
A girl discusses the impact of trauma on her brother's daily functioning, and how her family reaches out for mental health services which helps him recover.

Where Do I Belong

2018
Artist: Breahna Gillespie
San Diego County
Grade: College Freshman
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc
Advisor: Dr. Donna L. Cook
An inspiring film from the perspective of Ghanaian culture as told by a college student who experiences mental health challenges and finds strength and support from her family and deep rooted Ghanaian beliefs of unity.

The Words that Pull Me Down

2017
Artist: Grace Bachour, Jordan Hayes, Eliee Shahidi, Halima Ander
San Diego County
Grade: 11
Torrey Pines High School
Advisor: Don Collins
SanaMente
Animated Short
Walk in Our Shoes

Half Court To Health

Honorable Mention - Walk in Our Shoes - What is Mental Health
2023
Artist: Shelby Wester and Madelyn Murray
San Diego County
Grade: 8
Advisor: Vincent Timpe
The filmmakers shared, "Our video talks about how to prevent mental health issues, ways to help them, signs that you or another person may be dealing with them, and people to trust when dealing with these things. "

Fingerprints

Second Place (TIED) Walk in Our Shoes – What is Mental Health & Words Matter
2022
Artist: Adalia Pacheco, Kaio Passos, Ally Lopez, and Natalie Lopez
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
A film discussing mental health and emotions with a creative use of painted fingerprints.

Dear Future Me

First Place Walk in Our Shoes – The Superhero in Each of Us
2022
Artist: Adalia Pacheco, Melanie Ortiz, Adriana Chavez, Arely Murillo, Willem Ross, and Izzy Castillo
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
Dear Future Me depicts 3 young students writing a letter of encouragement to their future self. In the letter, each student talks about the challenges of their teenage years such as facing discrimination, name calling, and overcoming color barriers.

The Pep Talk

Second Place Statewide - Walk in Our Shoes
2021
Artist: Natalie Lopez, Jazmin Baca Guzman, Jasmin Lujan, Angelina Guerra, Jesus Aquino, Jesiah Gastelum, and Cristo Juarez
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
Taking the time to talk & share your feelings can help deal with the problems in everyday life. Every word and every person matters!

Windows

2020
Artist: Jackey, Katee & Brandon
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
Our eyes expresses our feelings, and show the emotions in us. Take time to look at others and offer help if needed because everyone deserves to be seen, and everyone deserves to be happy.

Invisible

2020
Artist: Alek O., Clarissa M., Jael P., Victor VE, Damian G, Yaretzy A.
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Hawking STEAM Charter School 2
Advisor: Joshua Ducharme, Lilana Moreno
A student struggles as he's being labeled and bullied at school. A friend reaches out to him and uses positive words to build him up.

Feeding My Heart

2019
Artist: Paula, Ariana & Angie
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Mission Middle School
Advisor: Tamara Whitney
A student explains the importance of taking care of your mental health along with your physical health.

AnxIety

2019
Artist: Angie, Ariana, Sara & Malana
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Mission Middle School
Advisor: Tamara Whitney
A student deals with anxiety and talks about what methods help her cope with it.

Esperanza en Nuestra Corazon

2018
Artist: Paola Morales, Sinai Sanchez & Ana Perez
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
Mental health challenges affect many people, from the young to the elderly. Your mental health is important, and there is HOPE. Hear from 8th grader Paola as she shares her struggle with mental health issues- and how she "Esperanza En Nuestro Corazón" found hope within her heart. You can do the same.
Hope and Justice

One Note Can Go a Long Way

Second Place Hope and Justice
2024
Artist: Natalie Chen, Sebastian Briceno-Mahr, Lucian Lasher, and Harrison Routh
San Diego County
Grade: 10
Mission Bay High School
Advisor: Anton Corbin
One message, as simple as it may be, can make a big difference to someone's day. While it's important to give yourself hope and find things that can help you get through the day, it's also equally important to help others.

You’re Not Alone

First Place (Tied) Monthly Prompt - Film
2023
Artist: Natalie Chen, Sebastian Briceño-mahr, Lucian Lasher, and Ian Hamilton
San Diego County
Grade: 9
Mission Bay High School
Advisor: Anton Corbin
Millions of teens, including many at our own school, struggle with their mental health and we want to tell them that they are not alone. With this video, we want to rid the stigma that surrounds mental health problems, and let them know that they are entitled to all the support they can get. The monthly...

Living better!

First Place April TikTok Challenge
2023
Artist: Itzel Ventura Medina
San Diego County
Grade: 10
Chula Vista Learning Community Charter High School
Advisor: Melissa Gonzalez
This entry is based on many solutions available for people who want to take care of the planet. Every time we follow one of these, we have the ability to change our planet. Even though it's not ALL 8 billion people, one person caring for the planet is better than none.

Let’s restart.

First Place January Monthly Prompt TikTok Challenge
2023
Artist: Itzel Ventura Medina
San Diego County
Grade: 10
Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School
Advisor: Melissa Gonzalez
“Now that 2023 has officially started, it gives us yet another chance to start over, and what we can do in order to better ourselves for the new year. As they say, "new year, new me", it is time to prove it, and the time starts now. I wanted to share this animation to show that...

Dear Me, What If?

1st place May 2022 Monthly Prompt “Dear Me”
2022
Artist: Natalie Lopez, Ally Lopez, and Medardo Sanchez
San Diego County
Grade: 8
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
"Dear Me, What If" is about the power of having dreams, and making them come true. Right now we are young, but all of us can accomplish great things if we take care of our mental health now. There are no limits on dreams, and each one of us can do anything we set our minds...

What Are You Waiting For?

Third Place Hope and Justice – Hope
2022
Artist: Keaton Hawkins
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
“Saying thank you to our family, friends, and teachers for the unconditional love and kindness they provide feels good- and brings happiness to our hearts. When we show gratitude, it changes our lives AND the lives of those around us. So... what are you waiting for? Any time is a good time to show gratitude!”

Missing Kids of Color Diary PSA

Second Place Hope and Justice – Justice
2022
Artist: Madison Mayes and Leah Belay
San Diego County
Grade: 9
Canyon Hills High School
Advisor: Effren Villanueva
“Our submission brings justice to the kids and teens of color who get kidnapped or taken everyday; no one ever speaks about them, and they rarely receive any news coverage. Furthermore, if they were white, then way more people would have heard about them.”

Missing Kids of Color Diary PSA

January Justice 2nd Place
2022
Artist: Madison Mayes and Leah Belay
San Diego County
Grade: 9
Canyon Hills High School
Advisor: Effren Villanueva 
“Our submission brings justice to the kids and teens of color who get kidnapped or taken everyday; no one ever speaks about them, and they rarely receive any news coverage. Furthermore, if they were white, then way more people would have heard about them.”

What Are You Waiting For?

November Monthly Prompt Film 2nd Place
2021
Artist: Keaton Hawkins
San Diego County
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
“Saying thank you to our family, friends, and teachers for the unconditional love and kindness they provide feels good- and brings happiness to our hearts. When we show gratitude, it changes our lives AND the lives of those around us. So... what are you waiting for? Any time is a good time to show gratitude!”