Walk in Our Shoes


While we all experience different things in life, there’s more that unites us than divides us. We’re all on the same journey — we’re just in different shoes.

Your challenge is to create a film that shows what it’s like to “walk in the shoes” of someone experiencing a mental health challenge: It should help others develop compassion for the challenges others may be facing, and show what actions can be taken to help.

Maybe you have a friend or family member that has been through a mental health challenge, maybe you’ve been through something yourself, or maybe this is something that hasn’t come up in your life yet. Whatever your experience has been, you can be a part of starting more conversations about mental health and helping create more supportive communities. Visit www.walkinourshoes.org or review these handouts for more information.

Important Information and Links:

  • You must be in middle school to submit a film in this category
  • Your film must be 60 seconds in length (not including the title slide but including the required end slate).
  • Required end slate: Note: End slates have been updated as of August 2022.
  • Your film cannot use any statistics.
  • You cannot show suicide attempts or deaths in your film.  This includes not showing guns, ropes, or pill bottles in your film.
  • Your film should be respectful of different people and cultures.
  • Title slide for your film – You may use this title slide template or you may create your own title slide as long as it includes the required informationDownload the Title Slide Template here.
  • Walk in Our Shoes Toolbox – This includes a variety of resources and links to help you with research for your film as well as a submission checklist.
  • Walk in Our Shoes Judging Form

Step 1: Choose one of the three topics to cover with your film and review the suggested resources and activities as a starting point.

  1. The Superhero in Each of Us,
  2. What is Mental Health, or
  3. Words Matter

THE SUPERHERO IN EACH OF US: STRENGTHS, PURPOSE, AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE LOSE THEM. Every superhero has a strength, or something that they are especially great at. These strengths can often feel like a person’s purpose, or reason for them to be alive… but what happens when someone loses this strength or purpose? Create a film that looks at the world through someone else’s eyes and shows the challenges that someone might face if they feel like they have lost their strength or reason for their life. How can someone tell that a person may no longer want to live? What could an ordinary person do to help?

WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH. We talk a lot about physical health, but what about mental health? What does that look like: Are you happy all the time? Can you be mentally healthy if you’ve had a mental illness? Are there things you can do to improve your mental health like you do for your physical health, or is it something only a professional can do? Create a film that teaches people the truth about what mental health is, or teaches them how someone can build better mental health.

HINT  It should still be a story! Don’t just write a list of definitions but tell us the story of a person who is building better mental health.

WORDS MATTER. We’ve probably all casually thrown around words like “crazy” in everyday life when we were talking about something else. But how does that make you feel if you, or someone you care about, is dealing with a mental illness? Does that make you feel like you can talk about what you’re going through or does it make you feel ashamed or different from others?  The words you use can have a big impact. Even if you know they are untrue, labels that people throw around can still hurt and make you feel disconnected from everyone else. Your film should tell a story that encourages people to use kind and accurate words to talk about mental health.

HINT  Be original! Don’t just have your film be putting sticky notes on someone and then taking it off… Instead, think about what is the effect of labels on someone? How do we get rid of these kinds of labels? What kinds of words can we use to replace these mean words in our everyday language (for example, instead of calling your busy day “insane” or “crazy”, say “ridiculous” or “hectic”).

Step 2: 
Finally, your film should include at least one action that someone could do to help someone else and/or get help for themselves. Feel free to come up with your own actions, but here are some examples:

  • Learn where to find support (like hotlines that are available 24/7)
  • Change the words you use to talk about mental illness
  • Support someone going through a difficult time
  • Speak up when others aren’t supportive
  • Tell a trusted adult if someone is talking about suicide or is harming themselves
  • Start conversations about mental health on campus or with friends to make it easier for others to talk about what they’re feeling and get support
  • Don’t wait — get help from a professional if you’re struggling with mental health challenges

Pro Tip: Be sure to view the lessons and activities before creating your film to get the most points possible for your film!

If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, are thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately: 1-800-273-8255This is a free 24-hour hotline.
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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