“Hard to disconnect”: Tech-focused short tops mental health film prize

Bethany College Hurstville students have won an Australia and New Zealand-wide short film prize with their depiction of the impact of technology on youth mental health.

Year 10 multimedia students Corina Choy and Jade Lozvanovski created their film for the Mentalicious. The competition asks students in years 7 to 12 to represent an aspect of mental health in a film of five-minutes or less, and aims to reward student creativity while raising awareness and removing stigma around mental health conditions.

In Corina and Jade’s offering, high school students’ technology use is reframed through visuals that highlight the qualities it can induce, from anxiety to low self-esteem.

“We focused on digital wellbeing because we felt that was a prevalent topic at the moment,” Jade said.

“Technology is broad and it contains a lot of good things and bad things. Within the bad there are triggers for a negative mindset that can affect youth mental health.”

 

Jade said the film had helped to raise awareness at school level, where social media is used “a lot”.

“Before school, a lot of people are on their phone and as soon as that bell goes at the end of the day, people are onto it and onto Instagram,” she said.

“Once you get on to social media, a lot of people have issues disconnecting from it. As much as it sounds like a small issue, it isn’t.

“It was a very open-ended task so it really put our creativity to the test. We’ll continue to use the film at school as a way to promote mental health awareness, because we do have a strong focus here at Bethany on mental health and making sure that everyone’s wellbeing is positive and relationships are great within the school.”

Corina said it took a month to complete the film outside of class time after watching previous winning entries to see the quality expected by judges.

“Past films showed the physical symptoms of someone [experiencing poor mental health] and not the mental side of it – how they think, how they see the world,” she said.

“The use of silence in our film made you look. You had to really interpret through the visuals how someone may be suffering in silence.

“Being able to experiment with the way that we filmed things, how we portrayed certain messages, and how we portrayed our voices in our head through technology was a highlight.”

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