Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Program Seeks Judges for Youth Film and Art Contests

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The Directing Change Program & Film Contest seeks volunteers to review youth-created film and art projects centered on mental health and suicide prevention.

Directing Change was founded on the idea that stories, film, and art are powerful tools for elevating conversations around critical health topics, changing norms, challenging harmful perceptions, and inspiring action toward more inclusive communities. Directing Change encourages young people to aspire to be courageous and genuine, asking them apply their creativity to a range of art forms, while conveying messages that can truly make a difference.

Please fill out our brief judging interest form to volunteer and begin receiving emails with information about upcoming judging opportunities.

This is a flexible, virtual volunteering opportunity.

All Directing Change judging is completed online, and judges may evaluate submissions at their convenience within the assigned scoring period.

Though the time needed to score submissions varies across contests (and from person to person), judging typically requires a time commitment of approximately 2 hours (or less).

Online orientation materials are also available for new and returning judges.

For our Annual Contest, judging takes place in late March. For this contest, judges review and score up to 15 short PSAs centered on mental health and/or suicide prevention. (Read more about our 2023 contest and award ceremony at www.DirectingChangeCA.Org/2023-award-ceremony/)

For our Hope & Justice contests, judging takes place intermittently throughout the school year, with judging typically occurring the second week of each month. For these contests, youth are invited to express their thoughts and process their feelings around critical mental health and social justice topics through the creation of visual art, written works, film, and even music. Hope & Justice judging is optional for Annual Contest judges, with judges free to skip months as their schedule requires.

Learn more about Directing Change contests at www.Gallery.DirectingChange.Org/Contest. Judges will also receive additional details via email as our next judging opportunity approaches.

Ideal judges have an interest in at least one of the following: visual art, filmmaking, video production, writing, music, journalism, youth education, public health, mental health, suicide prevention, or social justice. All levels of knowledge and expertise are welcome. Additionally, while judges can reside anywhere, we are specifically seeking to grow our volunteer base within the state of California.

Please share this opportunity with anyone in your community or network who might have an interest in becoming a Directing Change judge. Judging is both interactive and educational and can be a great way to engage community members, stakeholders, and partners in your county, circle, or organization.

Judging applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Annual Contest judging typically takes place in March each year. Hope & Justice judging occurs on a regular basis October - June.

For more information, submit a judging interest form at www.DirectingChangeCA.Org/judging-application or email with any questions.

The Directing Change Program offers young people the opportunity to win prizes and promote mental health by expressing their feelings, taking action, and inspiring others through film and art. The Annual Contest asks youth grades 5-12 (ages 12-25) to create 60-second films around the topics of suicide prevention and mental health. Additionally, monthly Hope & Justice contests asks young people to explore how they are coping through tough times by submitting entries related to the themes of "Hope," "Justice," or an assigned monthly prompt.

Directing Change is part of statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students.

Learn more at www.DirectingChangeCA.Org.


No additional volunteer opportunities at this time.




Mission Statement

To educate young people about critical health topics through the medium of film and promote social justice by changing conversations in schools and communities.


The Directing Change Program and Film Contest is an evaluated program devoted to training young people in mental health awareness, suicide prevention and other critical health and social justice issues. The program prepares young people to recognize signs of distress and how to seek help for themselves or a friend; provides curriculums and trainings to educators and school administrators to impact school climates, policies and practices; facilitates parent workshops; and offers 24/7 crisis support to schools after a student suicide. More than 18,000 youth have received mental health awareness and suicide prevention training through participation in Directing Change since its launch during the 2011-2012 school year; the program has also been implemented in more than 50 counties and in over 500 school districts in California.

Disguised as a film and art contest, Directing Change engages youth by providing lesson plans and instructional tools to educators and educational resources to students. Youth apply this knowledge to their own unique messages about suicide prevention and mental health by creating films and art. Learning objectives surrounding mental health and suicide prevention are integrated into all contest submission categories, giving young people the opportunity to explore these topics critically while learning about positive messaging and available support resources.


Arts & Culture
Children & Youth
Media & Broadcasting
Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Media & Broadcasting


We'll work with your schedule.


This is a Virtual Opportunity with no fixed address.


  • General Education
  • Mental Health
  • Visual Arts
  • Counseling / Mental Health
  • Journalism
  • Storytelling


  • People 55+
  • Group


  • Approximately 1-2 hours per contest. Judging can be completed at the volunteer's convenience within the judging window and does not have to be completed in one session.
  • An online orientation is offered annually, as well as online videos and other resources judges can review before/during scoring.

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