Since 2003, MHANS has held an annual contest for youth on a topic related to mental health. In 2013, what had been a writing contest became an Essay and Multimedia Contest, as we encouraged youth to use artwork as a way to express themselves. In 2018, we opened the Contest to Middle/Junior School students, who are judged in a separate age category.

Since 2013, we began using what participants told us, analyzing the submissions for common themes and creating anonymized data, which we have subsequently used to create educational programming, brochures, and social media posts – all designed to provide information on what teens think and experience around a variety of topics related to mental health and wellness. The “Teens Speak Out” series, which has expanded into “Teens and Tweens Speak Out” since the Contest began taking admissions from Middle/Junior school students, is now an integral part of our annual community education programming. Please get in touch if you would like us to make a presentation at your school or another organization in your community on the topic of youth mental health.

A 2020 High School Artwork Submission

2022 Essay and Multimedia Contest

UPDATE: Submissions are now being accepted until April 8!

Our Annual Essay and Multimedia Contest is now open for submissions from students 6th-12th grade. Our annual contest is designed to empower youth to share their concerns, ideas, and solutions. Cash prizes up to $300 are available. Submissions must be sent on or before April 8, 2022.

This year, for the first time, we are also accepting essays in Spanish.


Using the question above as a prompt, either write an essay or create a piece of artwork.

Essays: Tell a powerful story in 250 to 500 words, using personal experiences.

Art/Videos: Original art on an 11″x14″ poster, digital media (including photographs) accepted as jpgs, png files. 1 to 2-minute videos can be shared via Google Drive upload or by sharing a link to a YouTube or Vimeo upload. All artwork must include an artist statement.

Entry Instructions:

Do not include your name or school on your essay or media. Instead, attach a separate sheet and include your name, email, address, school, grade, and teacher’s name.

Mail submissions to: Mental Health America of the Northern Suburbs, c/o Turning Point, 8324 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, IL 60077

OR Email to:

All personal information is kept confidential. Entries become property of Mental Health America of the Northern Suburbs (MHANS) and may be published with the author’s permission. Winners will be selected by a panel of judges.


Students submitting essays should be in grades 6 through 12 living in the US. Students do not need to be US citizens or have legal status in the US to be eligible to submit essays.

Questions? Email

We thank the 2022 Essay and Multimedia Contest Sponsor, Yellowbrick.