WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today congratulated students from an Arizona high school who won a top prize in a nationwide contest by producing a video documentary that featured an interview with Barber.


Students from the Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix filmed a documentary short entitled “Diagnosing the Problem” about the state of mental health in America. Barber, who has championed mental health issues in Congress, was featured prominently in the video which was honored today by C-SPAN.


“These students did an outstanding job in tackling an important issue that many people aren’t discussing, “Barber said today. “I thank these students for shining a light on this critical subject and encourage everyone to watch.”


Shelly Ortiz, Nina Nandin and Hannah Hood, seniors at the Metropolitan Arts Institute, will share $3,000 for winning first place in the 15-state western region of C-SPAN’s 2014 StudentCam documentary competition.


Their work was overseen by Stephanie Lucas, film and video teacher at the Metropolitan Arts Institute and a University of Arizona graduate.


“We greatly appreciate the time and expertise that Congressman Barber offered to us to make this film,” Lucas said. “Without his words and his extensive efforts on behalf of people struggling with mental illness, this documentary would not have been possible.”


The national competition challenged students at U.S. high schools to send a message to Congress about an issue they felt is important. The students decided they wanted to address mental illness, using stories from fellow students, as well as the interview with Barber. They examined programs that assist people with mental illness and also addressed veterans’ post traumatic stress disorder – all within the contest’s seven-minute limit.


The video will be broadcast on C-SPAN throughout the day on April 28 and can be watched by clicking on the below image from the video:




Barber is a national leader in the effort to increase mental health service and treatment, working to reduce gun-related violence by focusing on mental health issues.


In early 2012, Barber introduced the Mental Health First Aid Act to increase public awareness of mental illness symptoms and mental health services by training teachers, students, firefighters, police officers, emergency services workers and members of the general public.


Funding for Mental Health First Aid was signed into law in January 2014.

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