Speaking Up About Mental Health! This Is My Story

National Essay Contest

If you or someone you know needs help today, it is available by text or phone, 24/7, for free:

  • Text “HELLO” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
If you or your friend need immediate help, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.

Thank you to all students who submitted essays. Winning entries will be posted here when announced in September 2022.

Contest Opens

Submissions Due

Winners Announced

Mental health is an important part of overall health for across all life stages. However, far too often, symptoms are not addressed or recognized among adolescents.

Speaking Up About Mental Health! This is My Story is an essay contest for high school students ages 16-18 to address ways to eliminate and/or reduce mental health stigma that young people may need to overcome when seeking mental health treatment.

This contest is soliciting essays that

  • Raise awareness of mental health among American youth and their families
  • Promote communication and understanding among teens, parents, guardians, and other caregivers to seek help for mental health issues
  • Provide students the opportunity for self-expression about mental health concerns

Ideas for essay topics could include:

  • Resilience and coping during challenging times
  • School policies or practices that could help reduce stigma
  • Conversations about mental health or related stigmas
  • Barriers to mental health treatment
  • Other areas of concern to individuals and their communities with respect to mental health

Get details on contest rules, judging details and enter an essay on challenge.gov

The contest is led by:

National Institute of Mental Health

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

The 2022 Speaking Up About Mental Health Essay Contest is part of an HHS-wide initiative to tackle the nation’s mental health crisis. Following President Joe Biden's State of the Union Address on March 1, 2022, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra kicked off the National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health in an effort to hear directly from Americans across the country about the behavioral health challenges they're facing, and engage with local elected officials and leaders to strengthen the mental health and crisis care system in our communities. More information on the National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health is available at HHS.gov/HHSTour.

Page updated June 8, 2022