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High School Students Invited to Reflect on Mental Health Stigma in National Essay Contest

Institute Update

Mental health is an essential aspect of overall well-being, and it is important for people of all ages, including teenagers. Unfortunately, there's still significant stigma surrounding mental health care, and many teens hesitate to seek help due to fear, shame, or misconceptions.

To encourage teens to be a part of the solution, the National Institutes of Health invites students ages 16 to 18 years old to participate in the “Speaking Up About Mental Health ” essay contest. This contest gives teens the opportunity to make their voices heard and explore ways to reduce mental health stigma that young people may face when seeking mental health treatment.

The topic is meant to be broad, but ideas for essay topics could include:

  • The impact of mental health stigma on teens
  • The media's role in perpetuating or addressing mental health stigma
  • The role of family and friends in reducing mental health stigma
  • Cultural barriers to mental health care
  • School policies or practices that could help reduce stigma

The contest, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), will award a total of $15,000 in cash prizes to multiple winners.

Through these short essays, teens can shed light on the mental health challenges they or their peers face. They can also share innovative ideas and insights for reducing stigma and helping teens seek mental health support without judgment or fear.

Important dates

Contest opens: December 1, 2023

Submission deadline: January 16, 2024

Winners announced: May 31, 2024

Additional information

There is no application fee to participate. Entries must be submitted on .

For more information on the rules of the contest and registration requirements, see the contest webpage at or contact