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Speaking Up About Mental Health: Student Essay Contest

The National Institute of Mental Health is encouraging youth share their voice on mental health, by inviting students ages 16 to 18 to enter an essay contest.

Mental health is real. And good mental health is important for us to manage day to day stressors, be productive and feel that you can take care of yourself.

Too many young Americans are experiencing poor mental health. And for youth of color, those who identify as LGBTQ+ and teen girls, studies show these groups are suffering more.

Despite some progress in raising awareness of mental wellbeing, there is still significant stigma surrounding mental health care, with many young people not getting help due to fear or shame.

The National Institute of Mental Health is encouraging youth to be a part of the solution, by inviting students ages 16 to 18 to get involved in the ‘Speaking Up About Mental Health’ essay contest.

Make Your Voice Heard – Speaking Up About Mental Health

Young people’s experiences and expressions of mental health can be different to adults. So it’s really important for youth voices to be heard and listened to. This can help us to explore ways to reduce mental health stigma that young people face when seeking mental health support.

The contest supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), will award a total of $15,000 in cash prizes to multiple winners.

Submit Your Mental Health Challenges, Ideas And Insights

To enter the contest you need to write a short essay on the mental health challenges you or your peers face. You can also share your thoughts and ideas on reducing stigma and how young people can seek mental health support without judgement or fear.

The topic is meant to be broad, but some ideas for your short essay could include:

  • The impact of mental health stigma on you.
  • The challenges you see in your peers mental health.
  • What role family and friends can play in reducing mental health stigma.
  • Cultural barriers to mental health care.
  • Gender/identity barriers to mental health care.
  • School policies or practices that could help reduce stigma.

A good place to start for inspiration is to hear from other young people about why mental wellbeing is important to them.

Important Dates And Information

There is no application fee to participate. Entries must be submitted on Challenge.gov.

Learn more about the contest here.

Submission deadline: January 16, 2024

Winners announced: May 31, 2024

Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.