Magnify Voices now accepting applications!

Magnify Voices Expressive Art Contest Brings Awareness to Youth Mental Health

Submissions now open for N.H. children and youth through April 3

Concord, N.H. (January 12, 2023) – As the awareness and prevalence of mental health conditions becomes more widespread and acknowledged, the New Hampshire Children’s System of Care (CSoC) is launching the fifth year of its Magnify Voices Expressive Arts Contest. Now through April 3, New Hampshire students in fifth through 12th grade are invited to submit a creative piece about their experiences and connections to mental health. An initiative of CSoC, Magnify Voices raises awareness, erases stigmas and effectuates the necessary changes needed to help ensure the social and emotional health of youth in the Granite State.

“Mental health is a very serious issue and each year, we are more and more impressed by how personal and powerful the submissions are,” said Holly Fenn, Magnify Voices committee co-chair and Reach 1 Tech 1 Love 1 co-founder. “We continue to hear from youth about how this creative outlet helps them express and share their feelings in ways that they may not be able to do otherwise while helping them cope and heal. This is the exact reason why we continue to run Magnify Voices. Our goal is to keep mental health among children and youth as an important discussion that will influence decision-makers to effect change in our state.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in six youth in N.H. experience a mental health disorder each year. Early intervention for mental health improves outcomes throughout life. In 2020, 57 percent of Granite Staters with depression age 12 to 17 did not receive any care. An inadequate mental health system negatively impacts individuals, families and communities.

The N.H. Children’s System of Care (CSoC) started Magnify Voices in 2019 during Mental Health Awareness Month in May to highlight the inadequacies in the system that serves youth and families. Magnify Voices is part of a larger, national effort to recognize the vital importance of positive mental health for a child’s healthy development. Since the contest began, there have been over 200 youth entries.

Submissions for Magnify Voices can be in the form of a short film, song, performance or interpretive dance (two minutes or less); an essay or poem (1,000 words or less); or a design medium such as a sculpture, photograph, painting or diorama. Ten finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges and will be announced at a celebration event at Plymouth State University’s Silver Hall, in Plymouth, on May 24 along with the People’s Choice Award which will be voted on by the public. In addition to the celebration event, all submissions will be displayed at other exhibits and events around the state.

The 2022 People’s Choice Award went to Emily W., Emily A., Lindsey K. and Lana G. for a video titled You’re Not Alone which discussed mental illnesses and statistics for those who are affected. The group of juniors were inspired to create this video to help others feel heard.

“Depression, OCD, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD…There is so much more to you than your mental illnesses. If you suffer from any of these conditions, you are not alone,” said the students in their video submission. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted loved one or a professional…”

The 2023 Magnify Voices Expressive Arts Contest is open for submissions from January 12 through April 3. Partner organizations include N.H. Department of Education Bureau of Student Wellness and Nutrition, N.H. Department of Health and Human Services Bureau for Children’s Behavioral Health, NAMI New Hampshire, New Futures, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Reach 1 Teach 1 Love 1, NFI North, N.H. Coalition for Suicide Prevention, Foundation for Healthy Communities, N.H. Office of the Child Advocate, N.H. State Council on the Arts, Endowment for Health, Riverbend Community Mental Health, and NH Suicide Prevention Council. For more information or to view the 2022 submissions and finalists, visit NHCSoC.org/magnify-voices.

The N.H. Children’s System of Care (CSoC) is transforming New Hampshire’s children’s behavioral health care services and supports into an integrated, comprehensive system of care. The Advisory Council, established by the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services and the N.H. Department of Education, is comprised of more than 50 child and family organizations and agencies across the state focused on improving mental health and addressing substance use disorders for children, youth and their families. Through a network of resources and support, CSoC is youth and family driven and community based.

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Photo caption: High school student, Mars D., was a top-10 finalist for his acrylic painting titled “Pharmaceutical Haze” among 48 entries in the 2022 Magnify Voices Expressive Arts Contest. (Photo courtesy of Mars D.).