Directing Change

Walk in Our Shoes Toolbox


Walk in Our Shoes Toolbox

Review the Official Judging Form for the Walk in Our Shoes categories to ensure your film receives the most points possible. Reminder: Walk in Our Shoes is only open to youth in grades 6-8.

Submission Requirement Checklist:

Number One: My film is exactly 60 seconds long. The title slide does not count toward the 60-second limit. Why this matters: Many of the films (even if they are not winning films) are used to support local awareness efforts and are shown in local movie theaters and even on TV.  We are only able to use films that meet the 30 or 60-second requirement (based on the submission category you choose).  

Number Two: My film includes the required end slate. Films must include this end slate which includes a compilation image of logos and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This end slate should appear at the end of your film and within the 60-second limit.

Note: End slate has been updated as of November 2023

In addition, you may also include the Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741741) as an additional resource in your film. Learn more about the Crisis Text Line here.

Number Three: My film includes a title slide. You may use this title slide template or you may create your own title slide as long as it includes the required information below. Download the Title Slide here or create a title slide using this template.

The title slide is not counted in the 60-second limit and needs to include:

  • Film Title
  • Filmmaker(s) names: (These are the youth involved in the filming, editing, or creation of the film)
  • School or Organization, Club or Other Affiliation Name
  • County (not country)
  • Adult Advisor Name
  • The Submission Category

Number Four: I have release forms on file for every participant involved in my film:  Filmmaking requires discipline and dedication to the craft. Youth filmmakers and participants are honor-bound to acquire all necessary permissions and signatures and must accept the liabilities for copyright violations. This means the cast and crew, and anyone else involved in the creation of your film must sign a release form, including parent/guardian signatures if they are under the age of 18. For more information visit the Release Forms page.

Number Five: My film is on message and does not include any disqualifying content.  All films should align with safe and effective messaging. What does this mean?

  • Your film should have a message that is hopeful and educational.
  • Your film should not use statistics
  • Your film should not show suicide attempts or deaths and don’t include means that a person might use to harm themselves such as a gun, rope or pill bottle. (Disqualification)
  • Your film should not include derogatory terms like “crazy” and “psycho” without explicitly communicating to the audience that these terms are unacceptable
  • Your film should be respectful of different people and cultures

Mental Health Resources to Assist You with Content

For background information review these short educational films developed by NAMI California.

Additional Resources

  • Walk In Our Shoes: Walk in Our Shoes utilizes real stories from teens and young adults to teach youth about mental health challenges and mental wellness. The website includes lesson plans and activities. Similar to its sister campaign in English, Ponte en mis Zapatos (Walk In Our Shoes) reduces the stigma associated with mental illnesses by educating 9-13 year-olds about mental wellness.
    Website: or review this handout.
  • Mental Health Fact Sheet: This document includes statistics and facts about mental health and an explanation of stigma and what you can do to help end the silence of mental illness. Download PDF
  • How to Help a Friend or Family Member: This document provides tips on how to respond if a friend or family member tells you that he or she has a mental disorder. It includes tips on how to help and support a friend or family member’s healthy behaviors. Download PDF
  • Start a Conversation. Check out this helpful video to learn how to start a conversation about mental health:
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Contact your local NAMI affiliate or Active Minds chapter and request an “In Your Own Voice” presentation at your class, school or organization from people who are experiencing a mental illness.
  • Fighting stigma using social media. This film provides tips and ideas for how you can use social media to fight stigma and share your story:
  • List of mental illnesses and symptoms: This document includes a list and overview of mental illnesses and symptoms, as well as treatment and support available for each. It also allows you to connect with others on the NAMI discussion groups which can be a great way to manage recovery, find support and learn more about mental health conditions. View here.
  • Half of Us: Mental health issues are a reality for millions of people across the country. Young people are especially at risk, with half of college students reporting that they have been stressed to a point where they couldn’t function during the past year. This website encourages young people to help ourselves and others by fighting the stigma around mental health and speaking up when we need support. Learn more about how you can join the campaign here:

Suicide Prevention Resources to Assist You with Content

For background information review these fact sheets and short educational films developed by the Directing Change Team in collaboration with NAMI California.

For additional questions regarding the “Suicide Prevention” category, please contact us.

Suicide Warning Signs for Youth

Warning signs are indications that someone may be in danger of suicide, either immediately or in the near future. Most people show one or more warning signs, so it is important to know the signs and take them seriously especially if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. (

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide.
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future.
  • Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
  • Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:
    • Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
    •  Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
    • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
    • Recent increased agitation or irritability

The following is a list of emergency warning signs that require immediate action:

  • Threatening self-harm or suicide
  • Person is in the act of self-harm or suicide
  • Person has a weapon or other lethal means
  • Seeking weapons or means to self-harm
  • Talking about death or suicide while acting agitated or anxious, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

These warning signs may not signal an emergency situation, but are signs that a person may need help:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Hopelessness
  • Isolation, loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Significant personality change
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Increasing use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Putting his or her affairs in order (for example, giving away favorite possessions, or throwing away important belongings)
  • Becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression (this could be a sign that a person has made a suicide plan)

The Directing Change team is able to provide suicide prevention resources and programs for your school/campus and trainings to help districts meet the requirements of AB 2246. Please contact us.

If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, are thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend, call or text 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (24/7)
Directing Change is part of statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. These initiatives are funded by counties through the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) and administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.
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