Preventum Initiative has awarded first prize ($5,000) in the FEND high school video competition to North Kingstown High School for their short video on teen depression.

The video competition formed part of the Rhode Island pilot of FEND (Full Energy, No Drugs), a drug prevention/education and mental wellness campaign aimed at high school-aged youth.

The video, entitled Break the stigma, was produced by students Benjamin Desorcy, Guillermo Hernandez and Jessie Girasole with the support of teacher Aaron Thomas.

“We wanted our video to raise awareness about the issues surrounding teen depression, and get across the message that it’s okay to ask for help,” said Benjamin Desorcy, one of the students involved.

Donna Sweet, Assistant Principal of Teaching and Learning said teen depression and anxiety were major issues effecting teens. “We are very proud of the students who produced this video in support of their peers and other teens who need assistance dealing with depression and anxiety. Although NKHS is known for high academic achievement, we understand that the social/emotional wellness of our students is equally important,” said Sweet.

The competition, which was open to all Rhode Island high schools, encouraged students to produce a 1-2 minute video aimed at their peers on either mental health and wellness issues or substance abuse. As the winning school, NKHS will receive a $5000 prize which can be used to further enhance the educational opportunities for students.

“Encouraging students to talk about mental health issues like depression can help reduce the stigma that keeps many young people from asking for help,” said Dr Jacquii Burgess, Executive Director of the Preventum Initiative.

“We’re thrilled to award NKHS the prize money, especially as they managed to get a third of their student body to participate in the FEND campaign,” said Burgess.

As FEND rolls out in RI, the Preventum Initiative plans to run additional competitions to involve both middle school and high school students around these important issues.

The FEND pilot was funded by a State Opioid Response Grant (SOR) from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The video competition prize was donated by a private donor.

Principal Barbara Morse, and the three students involved in the video will be presented with the $5,000 check by Dr Jacquii Burgess on Thursday (16th) January at 12:30pm at a ceremony at the school.

For further information about FEND or the Preventum Initiative, contact Dr Jacquii Burgess jacquii@wearepreventum.org