West Ada School District and Regence unite to promote mental health awareness through innovative student video competition
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) paints a concerning picture of the mental health challenges facing youth in the U.S. and Idaho. According to NAMI, one in six U.S. youth aged 6–17 experiences a mental health disorder each year. Its data show roughly 26,000 Idahoans aged 12–17 have depression. NAMI also notes that 52.5% of Idahoans aged 12–17 who have depression did not receive any care in the last year.
Faculty and staff at West Ada School District and representatives of Regence BlueShield of Idaho decided to take action to support youth mental health. Starting in September 2023, teams from the district and Regence began considering ways of raising awareness of the problem, the need to reduce the stigma associated with it, and how best to engage students in telling the story.
They arrived at the idea of staging a student public service announcement video competition. Students from West Ada High School’s Career and Technical Education Video Technology classes quickly rose to the challenge, creating compelling 15-second videos that tackle various mental health issues.
Regence reached out to an area television station, marketing agency and video production shop to judge final entries from Eagle, Owyhee, Rocky Mountain and Mountain View high schools. The winning video from Rocky Mountain High School was publicly announced in mid-January.
"We are thrilled to collaborate with Regence BlueShield on this innovative project that not only showcases the talents of our students but also addresses a critical issue in our community – mental health," said Jason Warr, activities director of West Ada School District. "Through the power of storytelling and video creation, our students had the opportunity to make a real impact and raise awareness about mental health issues among their peers."
Mark Ruszczyk, president of Regence BlueShield of Idaho, expressed his admiration for the students' efforts, stating, "The creativity the West Ada students brought to this mental health-focused video challenge was amazing. The messages got my attention as a parent and business leader and inspired me to do more to actively listen to and support the youth in our community."
All finalist videos from the student teams can be viewed here.