Film Sparks Mental Health Discussion at Cypress Bay

By Jessie Chaiet, student writer

As part of the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) initiative #BCPSListens, Cypress Bay High School showcased the movie Listen: It Only Takes a Moment. The film’s writer, director and producer, Erahm Christopher, said he was happy to be a part of this initiative in order to promote mental health awareness.

“I think the Broward County Public School district is doing something that no other public school district is doing in the country,” Christopher said. “I think they’re focusing on approaching the idea of mental health in a way that is really how students want to talk about it; it’s sparking a dialogue that people are afraid to have.”

Listen tells the story of several teenagers at a high school; it depicts their struggles with mental health and their relationships with their parents and those around them.

“There are teenagers that are dying for people to listen to them,” Christopher said. “I think that if I can create a film that basically sparks these conversations that teenagers need to have, then I actually believe it can save some lives.”

BCPS Cadre Director Michael Ramirez is responsible for executing this initiative, which began on October 24 and will end on February 8. During that time, Listen will be played at 29 Broward County schools.
“We began the initiative because we saw a great need not only in our school district but across our communities and across the country around the issue of mental health,” Ramirez said.

After each screening of the movie, Christopher held a discussion with his audience. “I think it’s important to help the audience realize that we’re all thinking the same way once the film is over. My hope is that if that conversation will start in the auditorium, it will continue throughout the campus, at home and in the community.”

Members of the Helping Overcome Problems Efficiently (HOPE) Sunshine Club volunteered at the screenings.

“I love doing these events because you get to help people, you get to hear other people’s stories,” senior and Public Relations Manager of the HOPE club Laura Tavano said. “We want students to know that if someone is having a problem at home or at school, there’s a club where you can find a safe space.”
Christopher said he hopes the movie is shown at schools all around the United States in the future. “I hope Listen spreads across the nation because I think it would be incredible for the youth to own this. I want the youth to take this film like it’s theirs and use it like a megaphone for how they feel.”

Jessie Chaiet is a junior at Cypress Bay High School. She is the Print News Editor of The Circuit, the school’s student newspaper.