As much as the pandemic has raised questions about the mental states of adults in professional industries, it has also taken a terrible toll on children as well, so much so that a state of emergency was declared last year over adolescent mental health. In response, the state of California teamed with the Child Mind Institute to create a series of videos exploring intense emotions and how to deal with them.
“The California Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids Project” is the product of a $25 million grant from California to the Child Mind Institute and centers around a series of 34 video modules. It's the first major work to come out of from production company M ss ng P eces after Tribeca Enterprises acquired it last year. The videos are split into three categories based on age—elementary, middle school and high school—and are available in English and Spanish.
The videos utilize the Child Mind Institute’s curriculum developed with over 60,000 students, educators and caregivers in over 600 schools. They explore what emotions, thoughts and feelings are. They also offer tips on relaxation and mindfulness that kids can use when they’re experiencing them. The elementary-aged series is told through a community of hedgehogs, visualized through actors in charming, DIY-style costumes.
In the video explaining relaxation skills, Molly the ballerina hedgehog is really nervous to perform a big leap at the "Intergalactic Spectacular." Even though she’d trained hard, sometimes she would fall down when she practiced and she’s nervous the same thing might happen on the big day. Molly’s friend Hannah, a turtle, gives her a great tool: deep breathing. Molly is able to use her deep breathing skills to calm down before her performance and nails the leap, scoring a “really good” from the judges.
The middle and high school series are less fantastical. They share their skills through interviews with real young people sharing what emotions and troubles they deal with day to day. The youths’ responses range include the adorable: “A feeling, to me, is something kind of like in our minds that goes through our heart,” one says. Others discuss the social pressures they experience at school. Each film is tailored to fit the different age groups.
All three series are available in English and Spanish, with variations in director, cast and host to fit each culture. They also come with supplementary print materials to reinforce key points and remind young people of the resources explained in the videos.
“We are honored to launch this campaign to help empower children, caregivers and educators as they navigate the ongoing impacts of the pandemic,” said Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, president and medical director of the Child Mind Institute, in a statement. “We believe these new resources will offer effective tools—and ignite new hope—to promote the mental health and well-being of California children and young people across our nation.”
The videos are available for free on the campaign’s landing page and can be downloaded, alongside the additional teaching materials, for easy repeat viewing. California teachers who spend 30 minutes watching the videos and answering questions about them will be eligible to receive a paid incentive.