ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix teens’ video on mental illness garners national recognition

Apr 29, 2014, 9:06 AM | Updated: 9:38 am

WASHINGTON — When Shelly Ortiz and some classmates at Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix were looking for the subject of their award-winning short documentary, they didn’t have to look far.

“I have a lot of friends who struggle with mental illness,” Ortiz said. “We tried to pick what was most prominent in our lives and what we were most passionate about, so that we could really make it the best that we could make it.”

The result is their 7-minute award-winning video, “Diagnosing the Problem.” It was one of five national winners out of nearly 5,000 submissions from 46 states in C-SPAN’s StudentCam contest. Ortiz was in Washington this week to be recognized by C-SPAN for the video, which was the top high school entry from the West region.

The annual competition asks students to make a film telling Congress to take action on an issue that matters most to them.

Ortiz and her teammates, Nina Nandin and Hannah Hood, started with interviews of fellow students at who had been diagnosed with mental health issues. But they soon expanded their scope to include post-traumatic stress disorder issues affecting veterans and the undiagnosed mental health problems that led to the 2011 shooting of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson.

“Hannah Hood has a lot of veterans in her family,” Ortiz said Monday. “She kind of brought it to light that PTSD should have been in the film just as much as any other mental illness.”

The video features frank interviews with fellow students talking about symptoms that they said had been ignored for too long and doctors who would not listen. They are some of the 4 million children and adolescents in the U.S. suffering serious mental illness problems, according to the film.

Ortiz said the project helped her educate herself on the topic beyond what she learned from her social circle. The main goal of the film is to get Congress to act, she said, not just by funding treatments but also by increasing awareness of the issue and decreasing misconceptions about it.

“My team and I would really like some recognition to drop the stigma,” Ortiz said. She also wants funding for outreach organizations to help people cope with their diagnosis.

“That is not something to be ashamed of. By having that help early on, it’s easier to normalize it in your life,” she said.

The student producers also interviewed Rep. Ron Barber, D-Tucson, one of 13 wounded, with Giffords, in the 2011 shooting by Jared Lee Loughner that killed six people. Barber echoed the need for earlier action, noting that Loughner displayed symptoms of mental illness for two years before the shooting, but those problems went undiagnosed.

Ortiz said she sees the award as much-needed encouragement to continue to her goal of becoming a filmmaker.

“It’s hard to stay a filmmaker when you feel you don’t have a voice,” Ortiz said. “But when you get just that little bit of recognition, to see that someone is watching my film and someone is relating to it … that’s what keeps me going as a filmmaker.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Headshots of Ann A. Scott Timmer, left, and Robert M. Brutinel. Timmer will officially succeed Brut...

Kevin Stone

Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer named new Arizona Supreme Court chief justice

Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer was named chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday, becoming the fourth woman to hold the role.

11 minutes ago

Crews work on the Alameda Drive bridge over Interstate 10 as part of the Broadway Curve Improvement...

Kevin Stone

Driving from Phoenix to the East Valley this weekend? Watch out for this major detour

An Interstate 10 closure will impede traffic from Phoenix into the East Valley this weekend. Here's how you get around it.

1 hour ago

Overnight shooting in Glendale leaves teenager dead, police say...

KTAR.com

Overnight shooting in Glendale leaves 1 teenager dead, police say

The Glendale Police Department said a 16-year-old victim died after an overnight shooting in Glendale on Wednesday.

2 hours ago

Panoramic file photo of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The Federal Aviation Administrati...

KTAR.com

Ground stop issued for some flights to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Authorities issued a temporary ground stop for some flights to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Friday morning because of foggy conditions.

3 hours ago

Arizona Task Force 1...

Serena O'Sullivan

Phoenix Fire task force to help New Mexico with search, rescue and recovery after deadly wildfires

Arizona Task Force 1 deployed on Friday morning to join the battle against deadly wildfires in New Mexico.

4 hours ago

Buckeye collision on Thursday leaves 1 dead, police say...

Serena O'Sullivan

1 dead after car crashes into tree in Buckeye, police say

A Buckeye collision on Thursday night involving a vehicle with three people crashing into a tree left one dead, according to police.

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

Phoenix teens’ video on mental illness garners national recognition