The Children’s Mental Health Matters Coalition is pleased to present our 2015 My Feelings Matter youth poster contest, in commemoration of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness week in May. Our Coalition is a Madison-based group of parents and professionals dedicated to promoting children’s mental health year-round. We encourage youth from Pre-K through high school to express themselves through their art on the theme of My Feelings Matter, as a way to support the development of children’s social emotional health and to generate age-appropriate conversations about the importance of mental health. Please see the contest entry form below for contest details and restrictions. Deadline for poster submission is March 20, 2015.
Why Children’s Mental Health?
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), an estimated 15 million of our nation’s young people can currently be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Yet only about 7 percent of youth who need support receive appropriate help from mental health professionals. Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 14 (National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)). With the right supports and resources a myriad of mental health issues can be tempered, or even prevented in childhood, before they have a chance to become more severe.
When these issues remain untreated, children carry these mental health issues into adulthood, where they become more entrenched and unmanageable, interfering with their daily life.
Studies show that promoting the social-emotional well-being of children and youth leads to a more successful adulthood. Those who receive early mental health supports show (mentalhealth.gov):
- Higher overall productivity
- Better educational outcomes
- Lower crime rates
- Stronger economies
- Lower health care costs
- Improved quality of life
- Increased lifespan
- Improved family life
Art is a widely used practice in therapeutic and educational settings as a way for children and adults to express their emotions in a safe, visual way. Art can be defined as anything from painting and drawing, to sculpture, dance, or music. Whatever the method, art offers a creative outlet for children’s feelings to help them deal with strong emotions, and gives adults in their lives insight into how their children are developing socially and emotionally. Putting your thoughts and feelings out into the world in the form of art is a powerful way to face those emotions, and begin to address them in a healthy way. Our hope is that this poster contest does just that, giving participants an outlet for their emotions and opening up the communication lines between children and their parents, teachers, and caregivers. If a photograph can say a thousand words we believe the artistic creation of a child can say so much more, and can act as a strong reminder of the importance of children’s mental health awareness.
For more information on the benefits of the arts in childhood check out:
The Importance of Art in Child Development.
What Can You Do?
Spread the word! Tell your friends, family, and work colleagues about our Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Celebration on May 7, and encourage children in your life to enter! This is a great opportunity to show your support for children’s mental health awareness and for children to experience the benefits of expressing their emotions through creativity. Prizes will be awarded to the winners in each age category. Please see the contest entry forms at the top of the page for more details.
Be informed. Learn about how you can help support children’s mental health in your life, whether it is directly working with children, advocating for early mental health supports, or by helping others become informed. Here are a few places for you to get started:
Information for Early Childhood Educators (CDC)
Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health
Mental Health America
National Center for Children in Poverty