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HCC, a community initiative of Cape Assist, is striving to increase protective factors and reduce risk factors for substance misuse among youth in our community. This year’s topics will focus on the importance of connection, peer support, and staying drug-free.

The contest is open to all students in grades K-12 in Cape May County.

(Younger students may need the help of an adult to discuss and choose a topic from one of the four topics below)


Students are invited to create a poster/art PSA or a 60-second video (or less), or a written PSA on one of the following four topics (click on each topic to see details and fact sheet):

Entries are due by Friday, March 15, 2024

Each winner and one guest will be invited to Cape Assist’s Public Policy and Awards Breakfast, where they will be recognized. The breakfast will be held on Fri., April 26th, at Avalon Links restaurant, 8:30-10:30am.

Winning PSAs will be used at Cape Assist functions and workshops and may be chosen to be displayed on Cape Assist’s and HCC’s social media pages as well as sponsored radio spots

Before you start your PSA

visit the rules, requirements, and eligibility




Mental Health: It's OK to Talk About It

The Power of Conection

Why I Choose to Be Drug-Free

Self-Care During Tough Times

Ready to submit your PSA?

Legal/Parent Guardian Waiver & Consent Form

(only for minors who submitted a group PSA)



Rules & Eligibility:

  • The contest is only open to students in grades K-12 residing in Cape May County or enrolled in a school in Cape May County.

  • Students must select one of the four topics listed below for their PSA. Each topic has a description/fact sheet.

    • Mental Health: It’s Okay to Talk About It

    • The Power of Connection

    • Why I Choose to Be Drug-Free

    • Self-Care During Tough Times

  • PSA may not contain the following: profanity, nudity, promoting drinking and drug use, death, or violence.

  • Submit PSA entry at by the deadline date (Friday, March 15, 2024).

  • Only one entry per student or group is permitted.

  • Any entries submitted after the deadline or without an entry form will be considered invalid.

  • Parent consent is required with each PSA entry submission.

Requirements for video PSA:

  • Video PSA will only be accepted in the following formats: MP4, AVI, MOV, WMV

  • Video PSA should be limited to 60 seconds or less.

  • PSA must include a title and “produced by” at the beginning or end of the video (this will be included in the 60-second video limit).

  • Ensure that background music/noise does not overpower or distract any important speaking parts of the PSA. Actors in the PSA should speak loud and clear.

  • Check PSA audio to ensure that it is loud and clear enough at a normal volume range.

Requirements for Poster/Art PSA:

  • Poster/Art will only be accepted in the following formats: PDF, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, and PNG.

  • Check for spelling and grammar.

  • For students submitting a photograph of their meme, poster, or art, please check the lighting and clarity of the photo before submitting.


Requirements for a written PSA:

  • Written PSA will only be accepted in the following formats: PDF, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, and PNG.

  • Written PSA must have a title, name, grade, and school on top of the document.

  • Your written PSA should be 250 words or less.

For any questions or assistance, please contact Natalia at

Rules & Eligibility


PSA Topic: Mental Health: It’s Ok to Talk about It


In this PSA, we invite you to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and reaching out for help.


A few points to help you generate ideas:

  • When someone is suffering, reaching out for help can be hard, but this is the first step to feeling better. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 young adults is dealing with mental illness, but as many as half are struggling in silence.

  • Many risk-taking behaviors for, such as substance use for example, can start during teenage years as an unhelpful strategy to cope with emotional difficulties and can severely impact a teen’s mental and physical well-being.

  • Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors.

  • It’s hard to engage in school when someone’s dealing with mental health issues. It’s important to recognize and address it.

  • Just talking about mental health issues, even to one person, helps break down the stigma. Some teens might be afraid of being judged or of not being taken seriously, and don’t ask for help. Being a supportive friend and encouraging them to talk to a trusted adult can make a big difference.

  • In your PSA, you can also talk about the 2NDFLOOR helpline as an available resource to youth and young adults. Here is some information about it:


2NDFLOOR is a Confidential and Anonymous Helpline for NJ Youth and Young Adults. The organization is available to youth and young adults to help find solutions to the problems they face. Helpline is available 24/7 - 365 days a year. Problems, questions, or non-life threatening situations: dial or text the youth helpline at 888-222-2228 or send an e-mail at:

2nd Floor website:


***Note: If someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 911 or 988.

Mental Health: It's OK to Talk About It

PSA Topic: The Power of Connection

This PSA should emphasize the importance of meaningful connections with other people.  

While it is important to practice individual self-care, there is great power in community and connection to other people. Offering help and support to one another, being able to reach out for help, and checking in on friends are all part of making meaningful connections.

Why is it important? Below are a few points to help you generate some ideas:

  • Human beings are deeply social. Our brain is wired for connection with other people. In the early days of humanity, being with other people was critical for our survival (protection from wild animals, hunting together, caring for the young, etc.), and our brain still perceives loneliness as a threat although it’s not a literal threat anymore. And loneliness may cause many uncomfortable or even painful feelings.

  • Connecting with other people gives us a sense of belonging.

  • Meaningful relationships with other people promote and support both mental and physical well-being.

  • When people feel seen, heard, understood, and valued, they are less likely to be aggressive and commit acts of violence.

  • Having a good support system of family, friends, and neighbors helps people overcome challenges more easily.

  • People who feel more connected to others have higher self-esteem, more empathy for others, and lower levels of anxiety and depression.

  • On the other hand, the stress of disconnection contributes to addiction, anxiety, depression, and many physical ailments.

  • In the digital age, where we have the ability to instantly connect to hundreds of people, we shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of genuine in-person connections with family, friends, and our communities.

  • Great quote: “Connection is a disposition you have toward people—it’s more of a mindset than a relationship status. It’s the way you treat friends, family, or the person in the Burger King checkout line. Do you aim to really see, know, and value people? And do you let others see, know and value you?” (Dr. John Delony)

ThePower of Connection
Why I Choose to Be Drug-Free

PSA Topic: Why I Choose to Be Drug-Free


In this PSA, you can talk about what’s important to you and what helps you stay on the right path. You can explore how having goals and working toward achieving them plays a big role in making good decisions and staying drug-free.


In addition to having goals, knowing the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol helps people make good decisions. Below is some information on the risks.

  • Drugs and alcohol affect children and adolescents in a much more negative way than adults. It is because the brain of a young person is not fully developed until the age of 25 years old.

  • All drugs will affect a person’s judgement, ability to form new memories, learning, reaction time, impulse control, and decision-making.



  • It is illegal to buy or use marijuana for those who are under 21. It is also illegal for adults to provide marijuana products to those who are under 21.

  • Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug produced by the Cannabis plant. THC is the main chemical ingredient that produces the psychoactive effect (makes someone ‘high’).

  • THC disrupts the brain’s ability to form memories and learn new things.

  • Marijuana can have permanent damaging effects on developing brains. It can lower a person’s IQ if they use it regularly in their teen years.

  • Students who use marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of school.

  • Marijuana is highly addictive. 1 in 6 youth marijuana users becomes addicted.

  • Frequent marijuana use has been linked to depression, paranoia, and anxiety.

  • Playing sports or video games? – marijuana can affect timing, coordination, movement and weaken someone’s performance.

  • Longtime marijuana users report being less satisfied with their lives, having memory and relationship problems, poorer mental and physical health, and less career success.

  • Drivers who test positive for marijuana are over 2 times more likely to be involved in a crash.



  • It is illegal to buy or consume alcohol under the age of 21. It is also illegal for adults to provide alcohol to those who are under 21.

  • If a person drinks alcohol before the age of 15, they are 5 times more likely to be alcohol dependent than someone who waited until the legal age of 21.

  • Alcohol impairs judgment and can lead someone to make decisions they wouldn’t normally make.

  • Research shows that teens who drink score lower on tests than those who don’t and are more likely to perform poorly at school or even drop out of school.

  • Alcohol consumption lowers speed, endurance, strength, and concentration - all key factors in an athlete’s success.

  • One time getting drunk equals 14 days of lost training effects (for sports). One person’s individual decision to drink alcohol would affect the entire team.

  • Underage drinking can result in other negative consequences such as alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, other injuries, legal problems, etc.


Tobacco and Vaping

  • The legal age to purchase tobacco or vape products is 21.

  • Teenagers who vape and use e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) are more likely to try cigarettes and other tobacco products.

  • Nicotine in either tobacco or vaping liquids is very addictive.

  • A person can start feeling addicted after smoking only a few cigarettes or after smoking only for a few days. People who start smoking when they’re young have the hardest time quitting.

  • There are thousands of toxic chemicals in a cigarette or in vaping products. They affect the health of a person’s lungs, and some of them can cause cancer.

  • Teens who smoke have many more colds, coughs, throat and nose problems than those who don’t.

  • Smoking cigarettes and vaping are major risk factors for a heart attack.

  • Smoking causes bad breath, stains teeth, and tongue, and helps tartar build up on teeth.

  • Teens who smoke are more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety problems, and depression.

PSA Topic: Self-Care During Tough Times

In this PSA, you can promote self-care strategies that you find effective and explain why you recommend them.


Here are a few ideas and questions to help you get started:

  • What’s your recipe for self-care?

  • What are some healthy coping skills that you use? How are they effective? (for example, deep breathing, positive self-talk, going for a walk, exercising, talking to a friend, creating art, etc.)

  • “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” Sometimes, it may be possible to turn something negative into positive by looking at the bright side of things and making the best out of a difficult situation. So, what do you do when “life gives you lemons”?    

  • Everyone has periods of time when things are not easy. It’s important to check in on one another. It might take you a minute, but it may mean the world to someone else. How can we support a friend?

Self-Care During Tough Tims
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