In light of May being Mental Health awareness month, Nassau County Youth Council held a mental health art contest to center mental health illnesses in teens throughout Nassau County.
By the April 9 contest deadline, roughly 40 teenagers from all over the county submitted artwork expressing the theme of coping with mental illness during the pandemic.
Members of the council served as judges for the art contest. The council is made up of 19 members ages 14 to 19 who were appointed to be the representatives to aid in advocating for and representing the council in the county government.
For the art contest, members of the council evaluated a variety of photographs, paintings, sketches and other forms of artwork. Nassau County executive and Baldwin resident, Laura Curran, honored five winners at a ceremony on Friday, May 28.
“The Nassau County Youth Council has a huge interest in mental health awareness and at this time, art expression for advocacy is really on the rise, so we wanted to create a contest for young people to emulate artistic expression,” said Baldwin resident and council founding chairperson Nicolette Carrion, 19.
Carrion said she received positive responses from the five winners because they said they were encouraged by the recognition. “The winners created artwork in such a vulnerable and personal ways,” Carrion said. “I think this contest was very important because the pandemic has been especially tragic for teenagers who are at a pivotal point in their development.”
Other members of the council said they are glad they could be judges in the contest. They also said are pleased to have participated in bringing awareness to mental health, while providing youth with an outlet to express their emotions related to mental illness.
“The Nassau County Youth Council strives to bring up issues relating to our youthful community and how we can be the voice to help all youth across Nassau County,” Bellmore resident, Samantha Einbinder, who has been a member of the Nassau County Youth Council since the middle of October 2020.
“We were very pleased to have received so many outstanding submissions. All of the art pieces were inspirational, as well as intuitive. This contest was a great opportunity to get the Long Island [teenage] community involved in something fun and creative,” Einbinder added.
Plainview resident, Aidan Davis, 16, who has been a member of the council since May 2020 said it has been a struggle for many of his peers to talk about mental health because of they’re so far away from each other, which has resulted in psychological effects.
“Making sure that youth can express their voices on these important issues is vital,” he said. “I’m looking forward to doing this art contest again in the future. And, hopefully even more people will be interested in participating after they hear about these five teens that were recognized.”