Visual Art

'Why Does Mental Health Matter to You?' Art Contest Fights Stigmas About Mental Health

"Imposter 1" by artist Molly Margaret Sydnor
"Imposter 1" by artist Molly Margaret Sydnor Lauren Drewes Daniels
Mental health has long been a motif and muse used by artists.

“I can not get rid of my illnesses, for there is a lot in my art that exists only because of them,” wrote Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, best known for his work "The Scream," who was diagnosed with neurasthenia, a clinical condition characterized as "emotional disturbance."

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is hosting an art contest to bring awareness to the stigmas surrounding mental health, particularly, treating mental illness with the same openness granted to other illnesses.

The 2021 Texas Mental Health Creative Arts Contest is now accepting original artwork, writing and photography through March 1. There are categories for different age groups including elementary, middle school (grades six through eight), high school and adults 18 and over.


This is an annual contest; previous winning art includes themes such as depression, body image issues and death.

The theme for 2021 is "Why Does Mental Health Matter to You?"

“While many Texans have experienced a mental health challenge or know someone who has, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the topic.” – Texas System of Care project director Kisha Ledlow

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“One in five adults and one in six children experience a mental health challenge each year,” says Kisha Ledlow, Texas System of Care project director in the HHS Office of Mental Health Coordination. “While many Texans have experienced a mental health challenge or know someone who has, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the topic.”

The context is open to all age groups and the guidelines for submissions include original artwork, writing and photography. The deadline to submit work is March 1.

“Through this art contest, we hope to highlight mental health and mental wellness as essential parts of overall health," Ledlow says. "We also hope to provide a creative space in which people may share why mental health is important to them."


The artwork will be judged on originality, creativity and how well it expresses the theme. For more details, visit the organization's website.
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.