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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
September 16, 2021

Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and Middle and High School Principals:

Supporting the Annual Directing Change Program Student Film Contest

The California Department of Education (CDE) is pleased to support the annual Directing Change Program and Film Contest. This event is part of a collaborative statewide effort to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and promote the mental health and wellness of students.

This statewide program invites California students from grades six through twelve to create 60-second films about suicide prevention and mental health that are used to support awareness, education, and advocacy efforts on these topics. Films are due at midnight on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, for all categories except for the monthly Hope & Justice contest.

Schools associated with the first-place winning film in each category, in each region, are eligible to receive $500 to support suicide prevention and mental health awareness programs and activities at their school (subject to availability of funding and one prize per school). Winners will be announced in May 2022 during the statewide award ceremony.

Through this program, students and staff learn about suicide prevention and mental health in a way that can be easily integrated into school activities. In addition, the program supports implementation and expansion of mental health and suicide prevention awareness efforts on school campuses and can help your school meet the state requirements for implementing suicide prevention policies. Schools who participate in the program are exposed to prevention resources and are offered trainings and technical assistance in the areas of suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. For more information about available resources to support your school’s prevention efforts, please visit the Directing Change website at https://directingchangeca.org/.

In response to Assembly Bills 2246 and 1767 (Education Code 215) school governing boards serving pupils in grades first through twelve are required to adopt and implement suicide prevention policies. The Directing Change Program has been working with districts throughout the state to assist them in implementing suicide prevention policies. For more information on how to implement suicide prevention policies, please visit the CDE Youth Suicide Prevention website at: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/mh/suicideprevres.asp.

I encourage all school staff to promote this contest among their middle and high school campuses to all students. We are all committed to preserving the health, safety, and well-being of our students. To achieve this, mental health and suicide prevention must be a top priority in our schools. By working together and incorporating the student perspective in this campaign, we will increase awareness of the mental health issues our students face and reduce youth suicide.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Shanti Bond, Program Manager, Directing Change, by email at Shanti@directingchange.org or Monica Nepomuceno, Education Programs Consultant, CDE School Health and Safety Office, by email at mnepomuceno@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

TT:mn

Last Reviewed: Thursday, September 16, 2021

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