Young Artists Bring Awareness to Mental Health

Gallery Exhibit at The Health Museum



HOUSTON, TX (May 5, 2016) – Half of all lifetime mental illnesses occur by age 14 and the face of mental health gets younger. Few kids or families talk about mental health, but the #HTxMentalHealth Children’s Art Contest, established by Mental Health America of Greater Houston and the Nick Finnegan Counseling Center, opens the door for children, parents and communities to begin conversations about mental health.

A report by the Mental Health Needs Council of Harris County indicates that an estimated 152,000 children in Harris County have mental illness and 91,414 are likely to have a serious emotional disturbance.

“Children’s mental health problems are real, common and treatable. There must be a greater effort for early recognition of mental health needs of children and adolescents and greater awareness of warning signs,” said Susan Fordice, president and CEO of Mental Health America of Greater Houston.  “Studies show that about one in five children have a diagnosable mental health problem, and nearly two-thirds of them get little or no help. Untreated mental health problems can disrupt children’s functioning at home, school and in the community, leaving them at increased risk of school failure, contact with the criminal justice system, dependence on social services, and even suicide.”

“Since children’s vocabulary and life experiences aren’t as developed as those of adults, art is one way for them to express their emotions,” said Nick Finnegan Counseling Center’s Clinical Director, Audrey Omenson. “We must start considering emotional and mental health equally important as physical health for children; it is crucial to their development.”

This year’s #HTxMentalHealth Children’s Art Contest theme, “How I Take Care of My Thoughts and Feelings,” offered children ages 5 – 14 an opportunity to create and submit original art based on their understanding of mental health.  The contest also provided parents and other adults who encounter or work with children information on mental health and an occasion to begin the conversation about mental health with children.

The 2016 #HTXMentalHealth Children’s Art Contest Winners are:

  • Artemis J. Ayala, Woodrow Wilson Montessori, “A Glance Into the Eyes of a HANGRY Kitty”
  • Christopher Cordova, Park Place Elementary, “The Boy Who Drew”
  • Akilah Lopez, St. Mary's School, “An Open Heart”
  • Armani Obasi, Williams Elementary, “Leaving the Negative Behind”
  • Geovani Obasi, Reading Jr. High School, “The Bright Side of Things”
  • Victoria Ortega, Park Place Elementary, “Cookies and Kisses”
  • Pastel Schway, Christa McAuliffe, "Say No To Eating Disorders” (not pictured)
  • Poem Schway, Christa McAuliffe,“Cheery Things” (not pictured)

Young artists and winners of the 2016 #HTxMentalHealth Children’s Art Contest will have their art displayed in a mental health exhibit at The Health Museum (1515 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004) from May 5 through June 30. Their art is also available for viewing on the 2016 Digital Children’s Mental Health Art Gallery at or

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

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2016 Sponsors