The 2022 Texas Mental Health Creative Arts Contest is accepting entries across all age groups for original artwork, writing and photography. The submission deadline is March 15.
The contest aims to bring attention to Mental Health Awareness Month in May and to help fight mental health stigma. This year’s theme is “Why Does Mental Health Matter to You?”
The contest is hosted by HHSC, the Texas System of Care and the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin.
“While mental health challenges are common among children, youth and adults, it’s not a topic that many people feel comfortable talking about,” said Kisha Ledlow, Texas System of Care project director in the HHSC Office of Mental Health Coordination. “Through this arts contest, we hope to encourage open conversations that will decrease the stigma surrounding mental health and bring awareness to such a critical topic. We also hope to provide a creative space for Texans to showcase their talents while expressing how mental health challenges have impacted them or someone they know.”
For many participants, the arts contest is an opportunity to express complex emotions through creative outlets. Lauri Cherian’s poem “Courage” earned an honorable mention in the 2021 adult writing category. The poem 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,” Cherian said. “That is why I create and write. I feel like I’ve come out of a dark season into the light through creativity.”
Submissions will be judged on originality, creativity and how well they express the contest theme. Winners from each category and age group will receive prizes and have their work displayed and published on the Texas Mental Health Creative Arts Contest website.
The contest, first held in 2012, grew each year until the pandemic affected submissions in 2020. The contest saw 773 submissions in 2019, while 2020 had 564 submissions. Submissions increased last year to 687.
For more information, including past winners, rules and how to submit, visit the Texas Mental Health Creative Arts Contest website.