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Contest calls for students to get creative about mental health


WESTFIELD – May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and for the second year in a row the Massachusetts Health Council (MHC) and Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) are giving teens the opportunity to express themselves creatively while raising awareness about the importance of mental health.

The “You’ve got a friend in me” student contest is open to all middle and high school students in grades 6 to 12. Individuals or teams are eligible to participate and submit original work. The deadline for submission is May 14, 2021.

Last year, the student contest accepted video submissions, but this year has been expanded to allow students wide creative range. Submission categories include Audio Visual -informational video, rap, song (between 20 to 50 seconds); Written – poem, short story (maximum 1,200 words), and Artistic Still – painting, drawing, infographic, collage, photography (can include a title and description).

Some of the topics that may be addressed in a submission include: What advice would you give a friend struggling with their mental health? How can you let a friend know they can reach out to you for support? How would you want a friend to help you? What do you do to take care of your own mental health? Do you have strategies or tips to share with other students?

The purpose of the contest is to get teens thinking about their own mental health and that of their friends. “With the pandemic, it created a lot of stress and social isolation for a lot of teenagers. Sometimes it’s easier to recognize how to help a friend than your own distress. We just wanted to give teenagers an outlet,” said MAMH Communications Coordinator Y’aneris Olivencia.

The contest is statewide and will be judged by MHC and MAMH according to category. The Grand Prize for each category is $200, Second place is $100 and Third place is $50. The MAMH will contact winners and their parent or guardian, if under 18, by email to distribute the winning checks.

With permission, winning entries may be featured on MHC or MAMH’s websites and/or shared on social media, and an award’s ceremony is being planned.

Submissions may be sent via email to Y’aneris Olivencia at y’[email protected], with the following instructions: use the subject line “You’ve got a friend in me!” Participants will receive an email confirming submissions. You can send a link or attachment with a document, scan or photograph of your art, or video or audio file. Include a cover note with name, telephone number or other contact information, and whether MHC and MAMH may share the submission on its website and/or social media.

No personal, identifying information from any contestant age 13 or under is permitted. Submissions should be suitable for publication and review by students over age 12, and should not encourage or incite dangerous, hazardous, or unlawful behavior.

“This is an opportunity to get creative in art, poetry, video, song – we didn’t want to limit the students,” Olivencia said.

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