What started as a way to promote a more creative approach to mental health has yielded a local filmmaker first place in the Changing Minds Young Filmmakers Festival in New York City.

“Nobody But Myself” a short film created by Kat Dolan — filmmaker and founder of the High Country-based nonprofit Out of Your Mind — emerged as the winner out of 700 films submitted to the festival.

A native of New Jersey, Dolan said she was honored to have had her film selected as the winner in what she considers her old stomping grounds.

“I’m so excited,” Dolan said. “I used to go into the city all the time as a kid, this is my hometown win. These are my stomping grounds. This makes me the most proud because it happened where I’m from. I feel incredibly grateful and absolutely honored to have been selected out of so many wonderful films as the winner.”

Dolan said her film was intended to promote awareness about her nonprofit, which fosters creative approaches to mental health, while bringing people from similar backgrounds together.

“What I wanted to do is really explain the ideals behind Out of Your Mind, which is a creative approach to mental health, a little bit different than some run-of-the-mill nonprofits,” Dolan said. “I just wanted to be able to explain our perspective on mental health in a repeatable way.”

A performance poet by trade, Dolan has spoken publicly for many years about suicide prevention and has advocated for a positive view of mental health. In 2018, she created Out of Your Mind, a nonprofit designed to ease people into mental health therapy through artist workshops and casual meet ups such as group hikes and coffee shop outings, which she calls “mental opportunities.” Most of those are offered for a small, suggested donation.

“For me I never felt ill. Mental illness has such a negative connotation, I never felt ill I just felt confused. I just didn’t understand what I was feeling and why I was feeling it so often and so intensely,” Dolan said. “Every depressive episode I have is an opportunity to better understand myself. That’s how I feel about it. I don’t feel like every time I get depressed I’m sick, I’m just spending more time with myself and trying to appreciate the person that I am and the person that I hope to grow in to.”

The Changing Minds Young Filmmakers Festival is showcased by the New York City-based advocacy nonprofit Community Access. This year, the festival will be held virtually on Friday, April 9, from 6-8 p.m. To learn more about Community Access and the Changing Minds Young Filmmakers festival visit www.communityaccess.org/.

Those interested in learning more about the Out of Your Mind nonprofit can visit outofyourmind.us/. Out of Your Mind can also be found on Instagram at outofyourmind_ and Facebook at www.facebook.com/outofyourmindcommunity.

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