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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
January 12, 2023

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 sponsored by the California Mental Health Services Authority as part of a collaborative statewide effort to prevent suicide. This contest also seeks to reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness while highlighting the importance of student mental health and wellness.

This statewide program invites California students from grades six through twelve to create 60-second films about suicide prevention, mental health, and other health-related topics to support awareness, education, and advocacy. Film submissions are due at midnight on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.

We encourage schools to integrate these films into school activities and use them to educate and inform students and staff about suicide prevention and mental health. These films are brief and easy to include in any class assignment. These films can be particularly helpful as schools plan for the implementation of mental health instruction required by Senate Bill 224.

Directing Change also supports implementation and expansion of school-based mental health and suicide prevention awareness efforts and can help your school meet the state requirements for implementing suicide prevention policies as required by California Education Code Section 215. Schools that participate in the program receive prevention resources and are offered trainings and technical assistance in the areas of suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. For more information about the Directing Change Program and Film Contest, including available resources to support your school’s prevention efforts, please visit the Directing Change website at https://directingchangeca.org/. For more information on how to implement suicide prevention policies, please visit the CDE Youth Suicide Prevention web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/mh/suicideprevres.asp.

I encourage all school staff to promote this contest across their middle and high school campuses. Improving student mental health is a component of the CDE’s Transforming Schools Initiative and is one of my top priorities as your Superintendent. Our collaboration will elevate the student perspective on health, wellness, and suicide prevention in our school communities. We stand with you as you work to preserve the health, safety, and well-being of students and families during this difficult time.

If you have any questions, please contact Stan Collins, Program Coordinator, Directing Change, at Stan@SuicideIsPreventable.org, or Rico Petrino, Education Programs Consultant, CDE Integrated Student Support & Programs Office, at 916-327-5930 or rpetrino@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

TT:mn
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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