Concord, N.H. (April 3, 2023) – The New Hampshire Children’s System of Care (CSoC) has extended the deadline for the Magnify Voices Expressive Art Contest to April 17. New Hampshire students in fifth through 12th grade have a little more time to submit a creative piece about their experiences and connections to mental illness. In its fifth year, Magnify Voices recognizes and celebrates the creativity of youth in order to demonstrate the vital importance of positive mental health for a child’s healthy development.
Mia Flegal, a high school student and former participant who has been using her voice to advocate for youth mental illness, encourages others to submit as it kickstarted her healing and coping, while affirming the feeling that she’s not alone.
“I understand that it’s really difficult to put such a personal part of you into a piece of art,” said Flegal. “When you do that and overcome it, it opens up a world of things for you because your support system grows so much more. It doesn’t matter what you struggled with because Magnify Voices participants struggled with the entire spectrum of mental illnesses. You are not alone.”
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.
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.
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, NH Suicide Prevention Council and Carroll County Coalition for Public Health. 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.
Photo caption: Middle school student, Brenna C., was a top-10 finalist for a piece of art titled “I’m Sure You’ve Known The Feeling” and was among 48 entries in the 2022 Magnify Voices Expressive Arts Contest. (Photo courtesy of Brenna C.).