News /PEERS awarded SAMHSA grant to produce TAY documentary on mental health issues
As part of its expanding effort to promote dialogue about mental health in the youth community, PEERS was recently named one of six winners of the national SAMHSA Campaign for Social Inclusion State Awards.
PEERS was granted $20,000 to create a documentary film highlighting the personal stories of three to five youths living with behavioral health issues and the impact of violence and trauma in Oakland. Issues such as the influence of racism, violence, trauma, cultural norms, and socioeconomic status will be highlighted through the diverse voices of the youth who are profiled.
"We are excited, humbled, and incredibly grateful for this unique opportunity," said Shannon Eliot, PEERS Media and Marketing Manager. "We have a talented and dedicated team, and look forward to creating a product that will foster conversation about youth issues within both the TAY and adult communities."
By watching each youth's story and hearing that mental health issues are only one facet of their lives instead of the defining element, viewers will change negative attitudes into positive ones, thereby reducing stigma, according to Eliot.
"The youth featured in the film will discuss strategies used and setbacks encountered on their paths to recovery from trauma and violence," Eliot said. "They will also discuss what friends did or did not do that was helpful to them, their recovery, and feelings of inclusion."
In addition to being the ones profiled in the film, youth will also be involved behind the camera by participating in focus groups and brainstorming sessions as well as acting as part of the crew. Film production will be led by Dan Reilly, the adult team lead of the recent Grand Prize award-winning project in SAMHSA’s PSA contest.
Once completed, the film will be shown in theatres, classrooms, and in community screenings, according to Eliot. It will also be publicized through social media, in both the full-length version as well as shorter clips.
"Our goal is to make this film accessible to as many as possible, and that includes packaging and screening it in ways that cater to all viewing preferences,"Eliot said. "Whether the film lives on the web, via social media, on television, or in movie theatres, we want to make sure to reach all sectors of society."
Designed to support and enhance state outreach and community-based efforts promoting social inclusion, the awards will serve to promote and expand the What a Difference a Friend Makes campaign, which has worked to boost social inclusion of 18- to 25-year-olds experiencing behavioral health problems.
"Social inclusion helps communities across the nation ensure that individuals with behavioral health problems have access to rights, resources, and opportunities that most of us take for granted," said SAMHSA Federal Project Officer Chris Marshall. "These awards are designed to demonstrate social inclusion in action by promoting community engagement through innovative activities."
Other awardees include:
- The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Indiana, Indianapolis, IN, will create a steering committee that includes behavioral health consumers to design an educational program on suicide and misconceptions about behavioral health problems for newly enlisted members of the Indiana National Guard.
- The Heartland Consumer Network, St. Louis, MO, a program of St. Louis Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, will host open mic spoken word poetry competitions at 15 universities throughout Missouri, including the five most successful hosts from this project last year, to provide young people the opportunity to talk about how they have overcome adversity.
- South Dakota United for Hope and Recovery, Rapid City, SD, will host a monthly education and support teleconference series, provide training to peers interested in sharing their stories, and establish a speakers bureau with trained peers.
- The Virginia Organization of Consumers Asserting Leadership (VOCAL), Charlottesville, VA, will partner with local Native American and creative arts organizations to bring music, art, and dancing creative cultural opportunities to young adults.
- Western New York Independent Living, Inc., Buffalo, NY, will host an art show featuring artistic works depicting pathways to recovery from mental and substance use disorders, a statewide poster/media contest inviting youth to submit an art display or multimedia production, and a mental wellness fair.