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Art contest promotes mental health awareness among Texans

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Fractured Paradigm, by Nataly S. Honorary mention, High School Original Artwork, 2018
Fractured Paradigm, by Nataly S. Honorary mention, High School Original Artwork, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas — One in five children and adults in the United States struggle with mental health, but mental illness is still stigmatized and not discussed as openly as physical illnesses. To fight mental health stigma, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas System of Care and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission are sponsoring the 2019 Mental Health Awareness Creative Arts Contest, which opens Dec. 10 and runs through March 11, 2019.

“The contest seeks to educate people about how common mental illnesses are and to encourage Texans to seek help when they need it,” said Molly Lopez, a professor of social work who directs the university’s Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health and leads evaluation of Texas System of Care.

The contest theme, “Why Does Mental Health Matter to You?” emphasizes the move toward treating mental illness with the same openness as other illnesses.

“Over the years, the artwork submitted to the contest has deeply connected with the people viewing it in galleries and publications. The artwork serves as inspiration to have conversations about mental health and to seek help when and where it is needed,” said Dr. Courtney Harvey, associate commissioner for the Office of Mental Health Coordination at the Health and Human Services Commission.

Texans of all ages are encouraged to enter the contest in any of four age groups — elementary, middle school, high school, and adults — by submitting creative work that reflects this year’s theme in any of these three categories: original artwork, writing and photography.

Winners in each age group and category will receive special prizes and have their work recognized in a public gallery at the Texas State Capitol in May 2019. Winning submissions will also be published on the official contest website.

The contest drew 336 submissions last year. Participation has steadily increased since the contest launched in 2010.

For more information including past winners, rules and how to submit your artwork, visit gallery.txsystemofcare.org.