Contest raises awareness for mental health


Ashlyn Wong

Contestants capture photos for their poster for the Teens Mental Health Poster Competition.

Ashlyn Wong, Staff Writer

About one out of every five teenagers suffer from a mental disorder within their life, according to National Association on Mental Illness. Yet only around half of these people receive clinical help and support.

Mental health is stigmatized for all age groups, but it takes a huge toll on teens. If they feel embarrassed about their illness and don’t get treatment, they are more likely to deal with the issue for the rest of their lives. By educating the community on this issue, we are able to reduce the stigma and get more teens the help they need to fight their illness,” said Belmont Teen Services Librarian Kayla Figard.

The San Mateo County Libraries are making an effort to raise awareness about mental illness and disorders by holding a contest to make a featured poster on this issue.

Pullquote Photo

If 1 in 5 youth experience mental health issues, that means you most likely know several people that may be experiencing this. Offer support to these people. If you are dealing with a mental health issue, seek help from someone you trust. You are not alone. ”

— Kayla Figard

The theme for this year’s poster is “you are not alone,” emphasizing the importance that people with mental disorders don’t have to go through their struggles alone and that there are many people out there that will help guide and support them.

I think this contest will help raise awareness. I hope that more teens will feel supported and be more likely to seek the help that they need to get through the difficult issues they are dealing with,” said Figard.

The official deadline for submission of the poster is Friday, Feb. 25, 2017. The contest allows all people from grades six to 12 to participate and enter an original poster promoting mental health help and hotlines. The winner of this competition will get to have their poster displayed in libraries, schools, and other participating places. Winners will also receive $70 of merchandise from Wear Your Label, a clothing line that promotes the discussion about mental health. Information regarding rules, rewards, and admission is posted on the San Mateo County Library’s website for students interested in participating in spreading the message about mental health.

Participants of this contest come from all over the San Mateo community, using different mediums such as markers, crayons, photographs, and paint. Although it is a contest, it brings many students together with a common cause: to stress the importance of mental health and care.

“It was a good experience using the camera and its features to express the importance for people to know that they’re not alone,” said high school contestant Jay Lee.

Students hope to help make a difference in their community and positively impact the lives of those around them.

Evan Wong, another participant, said, “My goal was to spread awareness that you’re not alone throughout the community by depicting the different aspects of mental health and loneliness because everyone at one point of their life will encounter loneliness or depression.”

According to Mental Health Reporting, suicides are caused by a mental disorder 90 percent of the time and is one of the top three causes of death in the world. Through this competition, the community will hopefully achieve its goal of educating more people on the seriousness and availability surrounding this topic.

Figard said, “It is important to hear these stories and not let the devastating effects of mental illness stay quiet. By sharing these stories we help each other cope and form a connection. We all need to be better about not stigmatizing mental health issues. Support those around you.”