Children’s Mental Health One Artist at a Time


New Mental Health Art Contest Encourages Awareness and
Inspires Area Children to Create Through Expressive Arts

Raising Awareness about Children’s Mental Health One Artist at a Time


Traci Patterson, Director of Communications
Mental Health America of Greater Houston,

Paige Roane, Community Relations Specialist
Nick Finnegan Counseling Center,

HOUSTON, TX (March 9, 2015) – Mental Health America of Greater Houston and Nick Finnegan Counseling Center along with its community partners are calling for entries in its first annual #HTxMentalHealth Children’s Art Contest.  The contest, which leads up to National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 3-9) and National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (May 7), encourages school children in grades K-8to share their understanding of mental health through their art, and helps parents and other adults to learn more about children’s mental health facts, issues and resources.

“There are roughly 750,000 children and adolescents between 6 and 18 years old in Harris County, and in this county alone research indicates that nearly 150,000 of them have a mental illness with more than 88,700 of them living with a serious emotional disturbance,” said Susan Fordice, president and CEO of Mental Health America of Greater Houston. “There must be a stronger effort for early recognition of mental health needs of children and adolescents and greater awareness of the early warning signs of mental health problems, what to do about them, and where to make referrals for further assistance.”

Research shows that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness emerge before a child’s 14th birthday. 

“Mental health disorders must be considered equally important as physical health conditions and as significant as learning disabilities,” said Amy Birchill Lavergne, child specialist, family therapist and executive director of Nick Finnegan Counseling Center. “Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. Children do not have the vocabulary of adults, which is why we use play and art in therapy to help them with emotional expression.”

The #HTxMentalHealth Children’s Art Contest focuses on children in grades K-8 in both public and private schools, charter schools, home schools, afterschool programs or associated with partnering organizations—including those that offer services to children who may have a mental health concern. 

#HTxMentalHealth Children’s Art Contest provides children an opportunity to share their knowledge of mental health and serves a greater purpose of helping raise awareness among the public about the early warning signs of children’s mental health disorders, how to address a possible concern and where to find help.

Artwork must be original art of the child’s own creation, displayed on paper no smaller than 8”x10” and no larger than 9” x 12”, and use any medium. Only artwork reflecting positive images and words about mental health will be accepted. Artwork should combine drawings, pictures and/or words to express the grade-level theme. Grade level themes are:

Level 1 (K-2nd grade):   What feelings mean to me.
Level 2 (3rd-5th grade):  How I take care of my thoughts and feelings.
Level 3 (6th-8th grade):  What mental health means to me. 

Only one entry per student is allowed, and all entries must have a completed parental release form. More details and parental release forms may be printed from the contest website  Each contest entry must be postmarked by Friday, April 10th.

Two (2) winners will be chosen from each grade-level group (K-2nd grade, 3rd-5th grade and 6th-8th grade). All 6 winners will receive an award and prizes including, but not limited to, a Kroger gift card ($50), Texas Art Supply gift card ($25) and admittance to the Children’s Museum of Houston for 6 ($54).

Winning artwork will be displayed throughout May 2015 in a digital mental health art gallery on and in a public gallery at a location to be determined.

#HTxMentalHealth Children’s Art Contest participants are encouraged to get their parent’s or guardian’s permission to take and post a “selfie” with their artwork or of the artwork itself to social media using the hashtag: #HTxMentalHealth in support of children’s mental health.  Children’s mental health supporters are also encouraged to wear something green – the observance color for mental health – and post a “selfie” to social media that includes #HTxMentalHealth.

This year’s contest sponsors and community partners are Kroger, Children’s Museum of Houston and Texas Art Supply, Youth Football and Cheer Federation, ArtBridge Houston, Legacy Community Health Services, ChildBuilders, Gallery Furniture, Love Advertising, Peace of Mind Foundation, Maid Brigade, Shield Bearer, Mental Health America of Fort Bend County, Young Audiences Arts for Learning Houston, Santa Maria Hostel, Houston Eating Disorders Specialists, United Way of Greater Houston, St. Luke’s Day School (Kindergarten) and Afterschool Care, River Oaks Baptist School, Westside Tennis and Fitness, and the Houston/Harris County Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative at Mental Health America of Greater Houston.

For more information and contest guidelines on the #HTxMentalHealth Children’s Art Contest, please email or visit our website at




Mental Health America of Greater Houston, established in 1954 by philanthropist Ima Hogg, is the region’s oldest non-profit mental health education and advocacy organization focused on shaping the mental health of people and communities in the areas of children and education, integrated health care, chronic illnesses, women, veterans, aging and suicide prevention.  We work to replace misperceptions and misunderstanding about mental illness; link people to mental health services; provide education and training for key sectors of the community; remove barriers to mental health care by facilitating change in systems and advocate for legislative solutions that address the vast unmet need for public mental health services.

Nick Finnegan Counseling Center (NFCC) is a non-profit organization providing therapy, premarital counseling and support groups to Houstonians experiencing emotional distress. NFCC bridges the gap between community mental health clinics and private practice counseling by meeting clients at a financial commitment conducive to receiving help without adding an economic burden to their already stressful situation.