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In December 2021, The United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, released a rare Mental Health Advisory on the youth crisis in this country.  He noted that there has been an alarming increase in mental health challenges, even prior to the pandemic, and stressed the urgency in addressing them. 

New York Times reporter, Matt Richtel, spent more than a year interviewing adolescents and their families for a series entitled "It's Life or Death - The Mental Health Crisis Among US Teens" and reported that hundreds of suicidal teens sleep in emergency rooms every night.  


The Open Mind Film Festival at UCLA, presented by The Friends of the Semel Institute, was inaugurated last year to bring teens into the conversation about mental health and to help erase the stigma of mental illness. High school students from all over the country were invited to submit short original films sharing their mental health concerns.  We received submissions from students on such topics as suicide, gender identity, depression, bullying, body image, addiction, and abuse.  


We believe our Open Mind Film Festival has and will continue to make a difference in helping address the teen mental health crisis. By providing a creative and safe platform for young filmmakers to express themselves and to share their personal stories about their mental health challenges, we have provided an outlet for teens to feel less alone with their feelings, worries, and struggles. 


In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, we ask you to please take a moment to watch these powerful, eye-opening, award-winning films from our recent Open Mind Film Festival on April 28th.

“Sixth Grade” by Charlie Lyons

“Life Support” by Daisy Lyons 

“Pretend” by Richecia Henry 

View these films here.


View the entire Film Festival here.


To make a difference in the teenage mental health crisis, please consider supporting the work of The Friends of Semel at UCLA