Young people design films to support youth mental health campaign

Published: 04 Oct 2018

Two new films to raise awareness of youth mental health have been launched by Hertfordshire County Council this World Mental Health Day (10 October) as part of Hertfordshire’s #JustTalk campaign.

The two films have been designed by young people for young people.  

They are the winning entries of a competition that invited pupils across Hertfordshire to submit a film storyboard to promote #JustTalk, which encourages young people to open up and talk about what’s on their mind without fear of judgement or embarrassment. 

The two winning entries were professionally produced as films.

Alex Strazza, a 13-year-old student at Verulam School, 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, a Year 8 student at Richard Hale School, had his storyboard made into an animation film. 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.

“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 that sharing a problem with someone they trust is the first step to feeling better.

Richard Roberts, Hertfordshire 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.

“Young people have advised on the direction of #JustTalk from the start and we’re delighted that they are still so involved in the campaign. Having them on board is a great strength.”

Assistant Head of Verulam School, Mrs Harrison, added: “It’s really important for boys to be able to talk about mental health and this campaign certainly helped with that.

“To get 80 entries to a piece of non-compulsory homework was fantastic; we were delighted that four of these got shortlisted and that Alex’s film was one of the two winning films.”

Family Worker at Richard Hale School Jane Michelson, added: “This campaign made such a difference; it really got the young people engaged. Many of them didn’t understand mental health before but through this they really got it.

“We had 185 entries, which is amazing! We tested the concepts on year 10 students, who agreed that the films made it really simple and easy to understand mental health and encouraged conversations. Well done to Louis, we are very proud of him.”

An emotional wellbeing survey conducted in Hertfordshire last year showed that boys are more likely to say that they would ‘do nothing’ if they had a mental health issue.  They also told us that they would like to talk more about mental health but are afraid of judgement or not being taken seriously.

Health, council and voluntary organisations from across Hertfordshire are working together to promote #JustTalk.

The films are available at:

For support or to find out more search 'JustTalk Hertfordshire' online.