Local students create a film for the launch of Mental Health Week.

Changing communities through storytelling, Desert Pea Media arrived in Wellington to start filming a rap segment with local high school students.

Local secondary students get busy with a rap video which will be premiered at Mental Health Week. Photo: Toby Finlayson

Local secondary students get busy with a rap video which will be premiered at Mental Health Week. Photo: Toby Finlayson

The charitable organisation works with Indigenous youth on issues relevant to their communities and the clip is now ready to be launched at Mental Health Week (in October) and on Youtube.

At the PCYC Colin Hill and members of the community focused on Wellington's history of tragedy surrounding mental health, especially among young people, and decided there was a need to generate greater awareness of the support services available.

Mr Hill said the students also grew in confidence as they learnt about working with different media.

"The first day they were sitting against the wall and the next day you couldn't stop them," he said.

Bethany Bell said it was a chance to learn about respect while Will Peckham said it felt good knowing they were doing something to help the community.

"I liked that we got to do something like this about the town," Kerri-Ann Stanley said.

Mission Australia helped out throughout the week and said while the participants didn't know much about mental health at the start, they'd previously had experience of mental health issues in the community.

Organiser Toby Finlayson said for many people, even if they knew about the support services available, there was still an element of stigma surrounding mental health and a mistrust that stemmed from generational trauma and consecutive government policy.

"A lot of Indigenous people feel a lack of support," he said.

"[The students] are creating awareness of these issues. They have taken on responsibility in terms of being role models and leaders in the community."

"There are so many different outcomes."

The program was also developed through a collaboration with psychologist Don Finlayson who urged members of the community to generate awareness, reasearch as much as they can about mental health and contact services like Beyond Blue.

Desert Pea Media is a charity that takes tax deductible donations.

It was formed 14 years ago with the objective of social change through collaborative storytelling, working with the community on social issues to create media, positive energy and lots of attention.

Toby Finlayson said after working in Wellington he didn't want to leave. "The community has been amazingly supportive," he said. "And I think it has been the experience of the kids. Sometimes you develop relationships that are long-standing."

Desert Pea Media now aims to raise funds for a continued project in Wellington.


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