May 6, 2013: In observance of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week and Mental Health Month in May, a partnership of West Virginia behavioral health providers and family advocacy groups launched a youth art contest in April around themes of understanding mental health and fighting stigma.
The twelve winning entries have been published in an educational coloring book, “Out of the Shadows & Into the Light: Let’s End Mental Health Stigma for a Brighter West Virginia.” Congratulations to our young artists, including those whose parents/guardians agreed to have their names published: Michael N. Myers, Jillian Perito, Skylar Jenkins, Logan Walker, Angel Crites, Carlee Silver, Eliza Homel, Andra Taylor, Hannah Secrist and Noah Parker.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, mental health problems are surprisingly common and affect most families in America at some point. But studies also show that most people with mental illnesses get better and many recover completely. One major barrier to recovery, according to experts, is stigma—the aura of shame and blame that surrounds mental health problems. This fear of mental health problems is a major problem in itself, but it can be overcome through public outreach and education, such as our coloring book and art contest.
Individual copies of the book can be requested free of charge from the child and adolescent departments at each of the state’s Comprehensive Behavioral Health Centers, and through Legal Aid of WV’s Family Advocacy, Support & Training (FAST) Program, Mountain State Parent Child & Adolescent Network (MSPCAN), Youth Move West Virginia, and West Virginia Family Leadership First. The 12-page publication can also be downloaded here: 2013 MH Month Coloring Book