Concord, N.H. (January 11, 2024) – Submissions are now open for the New Hampshire Children’s System of Care (CSoC) sixth annual Magnify Voices Expressive Art Contest. Now through April 21, 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 stigma, and effects change to help ensure the social and emotional health of youth in the Granite State.
“Youth mental health is a very serious issue that requires our understanding, attention and action, and we look to raise awareness of this through the Magnify Voices Expressive Art contest,” said Deb Jurkoic, Magnify Voices Committee Coordinator and NAMI NH Family Network Coordinator. “Over the past five years, we have received many personal and powerful pieces of artwork from New Hampshire’s youth. We continue to be impressed by their courage in sharing their stories to help others know they are not alone and to raise awareness of youth mental health.”
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 NH 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. The art contest 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 260 youth entries.
“When I’m in my room sadness and anger strangle my brain as I sit there and remain in my pain,” writes middle school student, Kyra F., in her 2023 poem submission titled My Mind in Meer Minutes. “Thinking about everything – the happy girl appearances I’m trying to obtain, the weight I don’t want to gain, the good friends and grades I’m trying desperately to maintain, and the fact that everyone must think I’m insane…”
Submissions for Magnify Voices can be in the form of a short video, 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, photography, painting, or diorama. Twelve finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges, including youth judges, and will be announced at the celebration event on May 22 at New England College in Henniker. The People’s Choice Award will be voted on by the public and announced at the event. 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, NAMI New Hampshire, Endowment for Health, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, NH State Council on the Arts, NFI North, New Hampshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention, New Futures, NH Department of Health and Human Services Bureau for Children’s Behavioral Health, and NH Office of the Child Advocate. For more information or to view the 2023 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.