May 6, 2024

First place winners from Peabody, Worcester, Worthington, Taunton, Hopkinton, and Medway take home $250 prizes. Artists look inward to explore themes around mental health and wellness.

The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) and Massachusetts Health Council (MHC) are pleased to announce the winners of the 2024 “Mental Health Matters: Student Expression Contest” to promote youth mental health. This year’s artists explored specific periods in their lives, the importance of having a trusted ally, and more themes around mental health and wellness.

Seventeen students won prizes for their creative expression of ways they maintain their own mental health, how friends and family lend a helping hand, and how to support a friend or family member going through a challenging time.

“The Student Expression Contest, now in its fourth year, is showing us that students are doing the courageous work of beginning to understand their mental health and how to protect it,” said Danna Mauch, MAMH President & CEO. “Students are processing their own emotions, supporting their peers, and having honest conversations with their parents and caregivers. They’re the reason why our advocacy is vital. We need to continue to prioritize mental and behavioral health supports when and where students need them and invest in programs in our K-12 schools.”

Pink, blue and purple monochromatic faces have their mouths wide open, within their mouths are the words "your illness does not equal you," their eyes are shut or squinting as if in pain.
Two female-presenting individuals hold each other and smile against a pink striped background, text above and below their embrace reads "reach out" "mental health matters," a speech bubble containing a heart is attributed to the individual on the right

Caption Two submissions from this year's student expression contest.

This year we received over 80 entries from students in 6th through 12th grade. Guest judges included student advocates, staff, and partners of MAMH and MHC. Two-time past winner Sorina Condon; advocate and friend of MAMH Mateo McDermott; Omar Irizarry, Director of Cross Agency Initiatives at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health; and Pamela Bows, Policy and Communications Coordinator for the Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) all provided their time to judge this year’s entries.

“Every young person who entered this competition did a great job, and it was such a difficult decision to choose the winners,” added MHC’s CEO David Martin. “The students confronted some tough feelings and told some important stories about resilience, support, and access to mental health care. We’re happy to have provided an outlet for them to share what they’ve been through and how they support others.”

A dark outline of an individual with headphones on, the background features blue and purple mountains before a yellow red sky, musical notes float through the sky.
a small bunch of pink and purple-toned flowers are seen being watered by a gray watering can against a blue background; below the flowers, we see a cross section of the ground containing the flowers roots outstretched; within the roots is a red heart

The winners of this year’s contest are:

Artistic Still – Middle School

1st Place: Emily Gagnon* (Higgins Middle School – Peabody)

2nd Place: Alex Lee (North Reading Middle School)

3rd Place: Lillian Spitz (Auburn Middle School)

Written – Middle School

1st Place: Lizzy Spillane (Venerini Academy – Worcester)

2nd Place: Charlotte Meade (Hopedale Middle School)

3rd Place: Aken Walkowiak (R.H. Conwell Middle School – Worthington)

Visual – Middle School

1st Place: Olivia Santoni (R.H. Conwell Middle School - Worthington)

2nd Place: Lucas Comeau (Higgins Middle School – Peabody)

3rd Place: Liliana Evans (Higgins Middle School – Peabody)

Artistic Still – High School

1st Place: Serenity Cross (Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School – Taunton)

2nd Place: Lilly Huynh* (Randolph High School)

3rd Place: Abeer Hassan (Lynn Classical High School)

Written – High School

1st Place: Anna Noroian (Hopkinton High School)

2nd Place: Matilda Keating (Tri-County Regional Vocational High School – North Attleboro)

3rd Place: Maddy Sullivan (Hopedale Jr. Sr. High School)

Visual – High School

1st Place: Student Group (Tri-County Regional Vocational High School – Medway)

2nd Place: Kloe Hurst (Tri-County Regional Vocational High School – Medfield)

*Members of the media: These students do not consent to being represented by the media in print, digital, or other formats. Please list them as “an anonymous student” in lieu of their names or any other identifying characteristics. Please do not share, reprint, or distribute their artwork in any way.

MAMH and MHC have been engaged for more than 100 years in advocacy to increase understanding, eliminate stigma, and improve support for people with mental health needs. Check back next April for details on the contest, submission guidelines, and other information on how to participate.

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