Pell City High School students start mental health podcast

PELL CITY, Ala. (WBRC) – Sem;Colon is a mental health awareness project organized by students at Pell City High School. Their goal is to address the increase in depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts amongst teenagers and pre-teen students.

Founder Anna Claire Hathorn says this all started as she searched for an idea for a silent film project she was working on in her film club. She saw the number for the suicide hotline, and she got the idea to bring awareness and destigmatize mental health.

A semicolon is often used to show support for people struggling with mental health, to inspire strength during a storm.

The students launched a podcast in May with assistance from the Pell City Center for Education and Performing Arts. It’s a part of the “Black Box by Spotlight Studio” by CEPA. They share real-life stories and experiences as well as expert information.

“To end the stigma about mental health and mainly depression anxiety and suicide,” says Hathorn. “So how we’re doing that is the podcast and short film are kind of like learning tools for people to gain information about how someone struggling with their mental health might battle with themselves and for people to know that they’re not the only person struggling.”

The students are planning more events and working on expanding Sem;colon. They want to serve and meet the needs of anyone who is struggling. Vice President Cailyn Hill will host a web series along with Jachian Dunnaville called “Sem;colon Sound-Out” with interviews with mental health specialists.

“We saw a need wishing our community and we know that people our age are struggling because we’ve all been there and done that,” says Cailyn Hill, Vice President of Sem;colon. “And we really just wanted to come together and make a change within our community and start the conversation if nothing else.”

With the help of CEPA the podcast was used to create a script for a short film. The film was chosen for the 2022 Sidewalk Film Festival.

To learn more about Sem;colon, click here.

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