June 21, 2021
HHSC, in partnership with the Texas System of Care and the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health, recently invited Texans of all ages to showcase their artistic talents and express their mental health experiences.
Each year, the Texas Mental Health Creative Arts Contest welcomes original artwork, photographs, and written entries and is judged by age group (elementary school, middle school, high school, and adults). This year’s theme was “Why is mental health important to you?” More than 600 entries were submitted for the 2021 competition, and organizers and artists took part in the virtual reception on May 26th.
“We know it’s important to raise awareness of this topic during the Mental Health Awareness Month in May – but also year-round – to reduce stigma, and it’s an important part of our mission,” said Michelle Alletto, HHSC Chief Program and Services OfficerC, Medical and Social Services Department. “As we all know, it is common to have mental health problems. For those of us living with emotional and mental health problems, the past year has been especially difficult. I believe now more than ever in the healing power of creating art and being surrounded by it. We feel so honored and grateful for the artists who shared their work with us. “
The works of art were judged on their originality, creativity and expression of the competition theme. The virtual reception included comments from the HHSC leadership, a digital slide show of the winners’ artwork, and a panel of artists to discuss their contributions.
“This year’s theme underscores the importance of telling the truth, living it and not being afraid to talk about mental health,” said Sonja Gaines, HHSC’s assistant executive commissioner on intellectual and developmental disability and behavioral health. “It makes the public aware that health and recovery are possible with mental health services and support. The artists drew from their lived experiences and created beautiful and exquisite works. “
Noemi V’s painting “You Survive the Challenge” won third place in the Original Middle School Artwork category as well as the People’s Choice Award announced during the reception.
“Don’t give up, because you can survive,” said Noemi. “You can create a whole new world if you survive. Get a better understanding of how you see things. Don’t let others make you stupid, because inside and out you are you. And in the end you are perfect just the way you are. “
Lauri Cherian’s poem “Courage” earned an Honorable Mention in the adult writing category. Cherian said she started writing poetry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a really great way to get rid of all that fear,” said Cherian. “Then you can look back on the trip and look at all the stuff that had to come out and see that you set yourself free when you put those words on the page. That’s why I create and write. I have the feeling that creativity has come to light from a dark season. “
To view the winning entries, Visit the Texas Mental Health Creative Arts Contest 2021 website. For questions about the competition, Email Texas System of Care.