In a scene from Never Alone, a young student (Jacob Medeiros) trying to focus on his studies is tempted by the girl in black (Meghan Pask) to hop in his car and pack in his school work. Screen shot

Students’ video shines a light on mental health

By 
  • February 13, 2021

Adriana Rereich says Oakville, Ont.’s St. Thomas Catholic Secondary School has a rich tradition of empowering students to tap into the arsenal of their creative talents.

So, when several Grade 11 and 12 students had a vision to craft a short film called Never Alone to promote mental health awareness — lining up with the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day on Jan. 28 — Rereich, the school’s chaplain, urged them to go for it.

“We delight in students when they take initiative. We do what we can to help them shine and nurture their leadership skills,” said Rereich.

The educator armed her pupils with just one piece of advice.

“The only thing I said was that the students should focus on the positive,” said Rereich. “We don’t want to trigger anyone. We should see people overcoming their darkness.”

"These kids inspire me with how they tackle their challenges each day to overcome my own bad days."

- Adriana Rereich

Never Alone, directed by students Jack Kukolic, Emma Pascu and Meghan Pask, depicts high school students wrestling against temptations and the forces that inspire a loss of self-esteem. 

“Our goal with this film was to help make a difference and encourage daily conversation about mental health,” said Grade 11 student Pascu. “We wanted to show our viewers that they are never alone in their battles, and that there will always be people who care for them and support them.”

The first 60 seconds shows a high school boy at the kitchen table trying to stay focused on his school work (to represent ADHD), but at the same time very aware of his car keys close by. Then there’s a girl looking anxiously at herself in a mirror (eating disorder). And you see a boy struggling to get out of bed as his iPhone alarm flashes at 9 a.m. (depression).

There is a person dressed all in black who seduces each of the teenagers to let the darkness rule them. She badgers the boy at the computer with his keys, she cloaks the one girl with a sweater to mask her body and she pushes the kid struggling with depression to remain in bed.

However, the tide turns as each student in the video receives support from someone in their life — thus they are never alone — and that gives them the strength to repel this dark force.

Pask, along with Jacob Medeiros, Adham Elkassby, Gregory-Campos-Hohn and Samantha Cox, are the actors featured in this four-minute production.

Rereich was blown away by the power of the video and said its appeal transcends beyond high school students.

“We all know that when student leaders talk to other students, those students listen better to their peers than adults,” she said. “So I’m hoping this video touches these students in a way that they say, ‘there are seniors in this school who get what I’m going through and want to create an atmosphere of caring — so i’ll just keep going.’

“As an adult, it makes me think, ‘who am I to complain?’ These kids inspire me with how they tackle their challenges each day to overcome my own bad days.”

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