Crestomere class creates health-viral video

“Before, we just had a basic idea. We educated ourselves, we looked into it. We can’t be ignorant now.” Isabell Stamn

A Grade 9 social studies class at Crestomere School created a mental health video for a class assignment, which was picked up by Alberta Health Services (AHS) and has grown into a public service message.

When Bryan Lachapelle assigned the project to his small class as a current events assignment he never imagined what it would turn into. “It’s pretty neat. I had no intention of it becoming a PSA (public service announcement),” said Lachapelle.

“I just gave them the bare bones, they totally ran with it. It was completely student led,” he added.

The video, which took the students about a month to create, was mentioned to an AHS employee in Ponoka by the school’s councillor.

AHS began to spread the word of the video internally and it was mentioned in a digital newsletter that highlights happening in schools related to health topics.

Word of the video eventually made it to the AHS communications liaison, who wrote an in depth article covering it.

The theme of the video is ‘Talk About It’, a concept the students now believe is an important part in erasing the shame and stigmatisms that surround mental health.

“At first it (the video) wasn’t that important but near the end it started to get more important. After you learned everything it started to get more important,” said student Ferran French-Scott.

“It hit a lot closer to home,” added classmate Isabell Stamn. During the course of making the video the students learned everyone will be affected by mental illness either directly or indirectly over the course of their life, and one in five people suffer from mental illness.

After making the video French-Scott says the class looks at mental illness differently now.

“There are quite a few people that don’t get help,” said Stamn. “Before, we just had a basic idea. We educated ourselves, we looked into it. We can’t be ignorant now.”

Kelton Comeau, the male lead voice of the video, says making the video opened his eyes to how mental illness is still perceived today. “I just thought of it as something people had. I didn’t realize a lot of people didn’t get help because they were ashamed.”

The video shows that the shame and negativity related to mental illness is what’s keeping those suffering silent. “If they don’t talk about it they’ll always be ashamed . . . If they can talk about it other people will say ‘he can talk about it, so can I’,” said Ashlyn Frandsen.

The class’ video can be found at http://teensonmentalhealth.blogspot.ca/.