CONCORD, NH – Starting December 15, Magnify Voices Expressive Arts Contest will begin accepting submissions from New Hampshire students in fifth through 12th grade on their experiences with mental health. Magnify Voices is in its fourth year of raising awareness, erasing stigmas and effectuating the necessary changes needed to help ensure the social and emotional health of youth in the Granite State. Contest deadline is March 4, 2022.
“Last year’s submissions were extremely personal and powerful, and epitomized the purpose of why we started Magnify Voices,” said Michele Watson, Magnify Voices committee chair and NAMI New Hampshire Family Network coordinator. “This unique effort gives youth a creative outlet to share their feelings and emotions in a way that is comfortable for them and that they may not be able to express otherwise. Mental health is a very serious issue, and our goal is to build greater awareness for children and youth and create ways that they in turn can influence decision-makers to effect change in our state.”
According to the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI), one in six youth in New Hampshire experience a mental health disorder each year. Early intervention for mental health improves outcomes throughout life. In 2020, 57% of Granite Staters with depression age 12–17 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 Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month in May to highlight the inadequacies in the system that serves youth and families in NH. Magnify Voices is part of a larger, national effort to recognize the vital importance of positive mental health for a child’s healthy development.
Submissions for Magnify Voices can be in the form of a short film (two minutes or less), an essay or poem (1,000 words or less) or through visual art, a song or a sculpture. Ten finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges and will be announced at a celebration event at the Tupelo Music Hall, in Derry, on May 4, 2022 along with the People’s Choice Award which will be voted on by the public. In addition to the Celebration Event, work submitted by the students will be displayed at an exhibit at the Jaffrey Civic Center June 6 through July 16 and at other events around the Granite State.
The 2021 People’s Choice Winner, Erin Murphy a 10th grader at Windham High School and her cousin, Amy Murphy a senior at Salem High School, presented their video last year titled “Dear Younger Me” to the NH Governor and Council.
“I know there was a point in time when staying wasn’t a realistic thought and there were nights that felt like they could have been your last,” said Erin and Amy Murphy in their video submission. “But as time went on, you realize life goes on…I wanted to thank you for getting the help that you needed and deserved. Admitting that you needed help was probably one of the hardest things you’ve ever done but it was so worth it.”
The 2022 Magnify Voices Expressive Arts Contest is open from December 15 through March 4, 2022. Partner organizations include NH Department of Education Bureau of Student Wellness and Nutrition, NH Department of Health and Human Services Bureau for Children’s Behavioral Health NAMI NH, New Futures, Reach 1 Teach 1 Love 1, the NH Office of the Children Advocate, New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and Endowment for Health. Sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Michele Watson at mwatson@NAMINH.org. For more information about Magnify Voices, click here.
The NH Children’s System of Care (CSOC) is transforming NH’s children’s behavioral health care services and supports into an integrated, comprehensive system of care. Through a network of resources and support, CSOC is youth and family-driven and community based.