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 people develop compassion for the challenges that others may be facing, and show what actions can be taken to help.

Maybe you have a friend or family member who 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 walkinourshoes.org or review this handout for more information.

New this year: Walk in Our Shoes is one combined category this year (no sub-categories!) where you can talk about either mental health or suicide prevention.

Important Information and Links:

  • You must be in middle school to submit a film to this category.
  • Your film must be 60 seconds in length (including the required end slate, but not including the title slide).
  • Required end slate: Note: End slates have been updated as of August 2022.
  • Messaging:
    • You cannot show suicide attempts or deaths in your film. This includes not showing guns, ropes, or pill bottles in your film.
    • Your film cannot use any statistics.
    • Your film should be respectful of different people and cultures.
  • 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: Create a story about walking in someone else’s shoes – and make sure it connects to mental health or suicide prevention.

Create a film that looks at the world through someone else’s eyes. Your film could show the challenges that someone might face if they feel like they have lost their strength or reason for living. Or your film could teach people about mental health, how to get support or give support to someone dealing with a mental health challenge, how to build better mental health or the importance of using kind and accurate language around mental health. Here are some suggestions on what your film can cover:

  • How can putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes help us understand what they are feeling or going through? Why is empathy important?
  • We talk a lot about physical health, but what does “mental health” mean?
  • What is the difference between mental health and mental illness?
  • Why can words like “crazy” be hurtful?
  • How could you support a friend or classmate who is dealing with a mental health challenge?
  • How could someone build better mental health?
  • How can someone tell that a person may no longer want to live?
  • What could an ordinary person do to help?
  • What resources could you turn to for help if you or someone you knew was thinking about suicide?

* Resources for suicide prevention-focused films:

* Resources for mental health-focused films:

 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.

 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 mental illness 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”).

Films should explicitly be about mental health or suicide prevention, not bullying. While we do receive some films about bullying, bullying is not the topic of this category and the Directing Change Program is not focused on bullying but rather mental health and suicide prevention. Bullying films do not fit this topic area unless you directly link how experiencing bullying affects someone’s mental health; showing a story about someone being bullied and saying “sorry” at the end does not educate viewers on mental health or how to build mental wellness. Historically, films focused solely on bullying have done very poorly in this contest as they do not fit the requirements of this category. 

Step 2: 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 to get support
  • Don’t wait — get help from a professional if you’re struggling with a mental health challenge

Step 3: Make sure your film is 60 seconds long and has the required end slate and title slide!

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 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.
Suicide Prevention Awareness Your Social Marketer, Inc.