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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
October 19, 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, 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, mental health, and other health-related topics to support awareness, education, and advocacy. Film submissions are due by midnight on Friday, March 1, 2024.

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

Directing Change also supports the implementation and expansion of school-based mental health and suicide prevention awareness efforts and can help your school meet 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 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/cg/mh/suicideprevres.asp.

I encourage all school staff to promote this contest across their middle and high school campuses. Mental health is part of the CDE’s Transforming Schools Initiative and is a top priority for the state and our schools. Our joint collaboration to incorporate the student perspective in this campaign will support the prioritization of mental health and suicide prevention in our school communities and help reduce suicides by increasing awareness of mental health issues and resources. We stand by you in your commitment to preserve the health, safety, and well-being of our students.

If you have any questions, please contact Stan Collins, Program Coordinator, Directing Change, at Stan@SuicideIsPreventable.org, or Rico Petrino, Education Programs Consultant, CDE Office of School-Based Health Programs, at 916-319-0229 or rpetrino@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

TT:rp
Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 19, 2023

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