Hertfordshire pupils’ winning films released for World Mental Health Day

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 October 2018

Alex Strazza from Verulam School was joint winner of a Herts county council competition to design a film about mental health in young people. Picture: Verulam School

Alex Strazza from Verulam School was joint winner of a Herts county council competition to design a film about mental health in young people. Picture: Verulam School

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Two films raising awareness of young people’s mental health have been released after a countywide competition among schools in Hertfordshire.

The films, designed by young people for young people, have been launched by Herts County Council to coincide with today’s World Mental Health Day, and as part of the county’s #JustTalk campaign.

Pupils from across Herts were invited to submit a film storyboard for the campaign, which encourages young people to talk about what’s on their mind without fear of judgement or embarrassment. The winning storyboards were chosen out of 185 entries and were professionally produced as films.

One of the winners was Alex Strazza, a 13-year-old pupil at Verulam School in St Albans. He said: “When I first entered the competition I thought it was just another piece of homework, but then after looking into it I realised it was really important for boys all across the country to talk and tell people their problems.

“I think boys tend to keep problems inside, we want to stay strong and not look weak in a way. But there’s no need for that, if you share your problems then it will help everything.

“I really enjoyed making the film and I’m a lot more confident as a result!”

Louis Webb, who is in Year 8 at Richard Hale School in Hertford, was the other winner of the competition, and his storyboard was made into an animation.

He said: “I entered the campaign because I thought it was important that everyone knew what mental health is and that it’s important to speak to people if you’re feeling a little bit down.

“My teacher Jane was a very big part of it; she explained mental health really well, made lessons fun and really helped us all with this project.

Louis Webb from Richard Hale School with his winning storyboard. Picture: Herts county councilLouis Webb from Richard Hale School with his winning storyboard. Picture: Herts county council

“I really enjoyed doing it, especially when I had a Skype meeting with the animator to make changes to the final animation.”

The #JustTalk campaign aims to help young people, especially boys and young men, know that it’s OK to not be OK – and to encourage them to share their problems with someone they can trust.

Richard Roberts, the county council’s cabinet member for public health, said: “The films are brilliant! I’m really impressed with the creativity and maturity with which these young people have approached this project.”

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