Texas System of Care has launched the annual Texas Mental Health Creative Arts Contest in collaboration with the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health at UT Austin and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The contest is open December 1st, 2021 and will run through March 15th, 2022.
The contest aims to raise awareness of the importance of caring for our mental health, and to launch discussion about understanding our emotions and seeking help when we are struggling. Participants may enter by submitting creative work in one of three categories (original artwork, writing, or photography), that draws on the contest theme, ”Why Does Mental Health Matter To You?” The contest is open to Texans of all ages and is judged in four age groups: elementary, middle school, high school and adult. Last year, the contest drew 687 submissions.
For many participants, the arts contest is an opportunity to express complex emotions through creative outlets. Lauri Cherian, whose poem, “Courage,” earned an honorable mention in the adult writing category, highlighted the power of writing poetry in her own mental health journey during the COVID-19 pandemic: “It was a really great way to get all that angst out. That is why I create and write. I feel like I’ve come out of a dark season into the light through creativity.”
For students, the contest may offer a chance for them to reflect on their own challenges and inspire others. Noemi V., whose painting, “You Survive the Challenge,” earned third place in the middle school original artwork category as well as the People’s Choice Award, spoke on the message behind her piece: “Don’t give up because you can survive it. On the inside and outside…you are perfect the way you are.”
For more information, including past winners, rules, and how to submit artwork, visit the gallery website.