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Did you know that one in six youth in New Hampshire experience a mental health disorder each year? That’s according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which tracks some sobering stats about the challenges young Granite Staters are up against.
Among the state’s youth aged 12-17, about 15,000 have depression — a group larger than the max capacity of the SNHU Center in Manchester — and more than half of them didn’t receive any mental health care at all within the past year, according to NAMI New Hampshire.
The good news is that awareness-raisers and problem-solvers have been hard at work, and young people are using creative ways to encourage one another to speak openly about their struggles and seek help when they need it.
That’s a major theme of the “Magnify Voices” student art contest, which is currently collecting submissions from New Hampshire students in grades 5 through 12. The contest, which is in its fifth year, asks students to submit a creative piece about their experiences and connections to mental illness.
Last year’s entries included poetry, paintings, short films, and more. High schooler Mia Flegal of Nashua, who participated in a past contest, said the experience helped her heal and cope by affirming her sense 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,” she said in a statement. “When you do that and overcome it, it opens up a world of things for you because your support system grows so much more.”
Finalists and a People’s Choice Award winner will be announced at a celebration event at Plymouth State University on May 24, and all submissions will be displayed at other exhibits and events around the state, according to the New Hampshire Children’s System of Care, which is organizing the contest. Students have until Monday, April 17, to submit their work.
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