CHARLESTON — Friday, April 19 is the deadline for young West Virginians, ages four to 21 years old, to bring mental health issues “out of the shadows and into the light” through their drawings, as part of a statewide art contest.
“I’d love to see our counties (children and adults) get a general understanding of mental health/illness, step away from the “stigma and discrimination” concerns and do what we do best - help each other feel better, get better and live safe, healthy, happy lives,” said Robin Weiner,Children’s Liaison, Logan-Mingo Area Mental Health.
A partnership of behavioral health providers, state agencies and family and youth advocacy groups, known as the West Virginia System of Care, is sponsoring the contest. Up to a dozen winning entries will be featured in a coloring book the group is publishing, to educate the public and battle the stigma that is often associated with mental health challenges.
“It is important that we welcome conversations surrounding mental health and educate the public, in order to eliminate stigma and discrimination towards people of all ages who deal with mental health challenges, and their families,” said contest coordinator Jeanette Rowsey.
Young people living with mental health challenges are particularly invited to share their visual ideas, but any West Virginian up to the age of 21 may enter. There is no cost to enter, but all entries must be postmarked no later than Friday, April 19.
To download complete contest rules and entry forms, go to www.wvsystemofcare.org and click on Mental Health Month 2013. Visitors to the website may also download the group’s popular 2009 coloring book, The West Virginia “Cool Kids Toolkit,” a guide to keeping cool and dealing with stress.
The West Virginia System of Care is sponsoring the contest in partnership with the state’s Comprehensive Behavioral Health Centers, other behavioral health providers, and the following statewide family/youth organizations: Family Advocacy Support & Training (FAST) Program, Legal Aid of West Virginia; Family Leadership First; Mountain State Parents Child & Adolescent Network (MSPCAN), and Youth Move West Virginia.
Support for the project comes from a grant by the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Behavioral Health & Health Facilities, and Bureau for Children & Families.
For more information or help with general questions, finding the link or mailing drawings, contact Robin Weiner, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 304-792-7130, ext. 246.