Mental Health is a critical issue of our time and our culture that has for too long been a taboo subject to discuss openly and honestly, and that has created a negative stigma around mental illness. The fact is that mental health is an issue which is relevant to everyone, because just like physical health, education, communication, and prevention are the keys to not only reducing the incidences of mental illness, but also to eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness. It is only through discussion that we can achieve understanding, and then we can move beyond stigma to support and solutions.
We use arts-centered social engagement to help individuals learn more about mental health in California and the nation. One of the key tools in this process is our monthly Short Film Competition, which encourages and rewards emerging filmmakers making work on the topic of mental health. This program brings awareness of mental health issues to the public, most importantly to 18-25 year olds at universities around the country through our Underground Film Series. We use the winning films each month in events on college campuses to facilitate dialogue on mental health, an issue that impacts everyone in our society, given that more than the 1 in 4 people have a mental illness. Over time, this growing library of films will be made available to anyone wishing to help educate and create discussion around mental health.
Art With Impact’s short film competition directly benefits three populations: mental health advocates, by giving them concrete resources for use in their work to decrease stigma and create awareness of mental health issues; mental health consumers, by sending the message that they are not alone and that there are resources available to them; and socially conscious filmmakers, by providing both exposure and direct financial support for work relating to mental health.
The first two winners’ films perfectly reflect the power of allowing voices from people of all different backgrounds and perspectives an opportunity to be heard on a challenging issue like mental health. When we connect to these voices and recognize something of ourselves in them, we realize that we are not different than those suffering from mental illness, and there should be no barrier placed in between us to keep us from connecting and understanding one another.
If you wish to know what more you can do, here are some options: