PRESS RELASE: Marin County Youth Art/Film Showcase Addresses Mental Health

Janice K. Johnson

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April 25, 2022

Youth Art/Film Showcase Addresses Mental Health

Submit works that illuminate hope and well-being during Mental Health Month

San Rafael, CA – Artistic expression can help people through difficult times and bring hope and inspiration to themselves and others. These, indeed, qualify as difficult times. Creative young folks in Marin County have a chance to support their peers by submitting their works to an arts showcase centered on increasing awareness and sparking conversations about mental health and well-being within Marin.

In honor of May Mental Health Month and to support their peers’ needs, the Marin Suicide Prevention Collaborative’s Youth Action Team is hosting the May Mental Health Month Youth Art Showcase on May 12, for which submissions will be accepted through May 9.

The Youth Action Team is collaborating with the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Cultural Services, and Marin County Office of Education to plan and implement the event. To engage youth to submit art, the team is also partnering with community youth organizations such as The Beat Within, Opening the World, The Youth Poster Contest as well as Marin schools.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this important program as the arts are such a crucial part of our lives especially when it comes to mental health. The arts allow space for social connection, empathy, understanding and release, especially at a time when so many of us are feeling isolated and alone,” said Director of Cultural Services Gabriella Calicchio.

The Suicide Prevention Collaborative (SPC), of HHS’ Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, is supported by Kara Connors, Senior Program Coordinator. The Collaborative’s Community Action Teams, which includes the Youth Action Team, help to advance the County’s Strategic Plan for Suicide Prevention[PDF]. The members design and implement school- and community-based suicide prevention awareness and education campaigns in partnership with Marin County Office of Education, the Marin Schools Wellness Collaborative, and other community-based organizations in Marin.

“The Youth Action Team members are in a perfect position to positively influence their friends and peers around these important topics,” Connors said. “We know that youth often talk with peers about their personal struggles, even before talking to an adult. Every young person can be equipped to help one another by directing them to resources and information to get help. The Youth Art and Film Showcase will connect youth, build their confidence as helpers, and create social change and norms through their art.”

In March 2020, the shutdown of high schools and middle schools and the loss of peer access increased both anxiety and depression among Marin’s youth. Despite the September 2021 restoration of in-person schooling, youth are still dealing with the mental health issues they developed since the pandemic lockdown. In honor of May Mental Health Month, the team’s goal is to increase awareness and conversations around mental health and well-being in Marin.

The exposure to their peer mental health issues and needs motivates many youth to join organizations such as the Youth Action Team. This motivation strongly moved Tawny Strotz, a junior at Redwood High School, to join the Youth Action Team this spring and lead the coordination and promotion of May Mental Health Month Youth Art Showcase.

“I feel strong as part of a community like the Youth Action Team, that is motivated by change and action to bring attention to the important issue of mental health,” Strotz said. “I know that some of my friends have had their fair share of mental health struggles and just having a chance to be open about it helps to normalize the conversation so we can help each other. I’m happiest when I know I can help my friends, which we will do through the Showcase by bringing attention to mental health and giving students an opportunity to have their work appreciated.”

For this event, Marin youth are encouraged to create and submit art that reflects hopeful messages based on their perspectives and experiences with mental health. Art of many forms will be accepted, including photography, painting, digital art, storytelling, poetry, dance, music, and video. In their creation of art, youth are asked to share current life or community experiences that deliver hope or encourage young people to take a stand against injustice.

Until May 9, youth artwork can be submitted digitally or dropped off at the Marin County Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 329 in San Rafael, attention Nancy Vernon. The submission form and guidelines are available on the May Mental Health Month Youth Art Showcase website.

Marin HHS oversees government-funded behavioral health and recovery services. If you or someone you know is in mental health distress, find resources on BHRSPrevention.org or contact:

Learn more at www.marinhhs.org.


This press release was produced by the Marin County Government. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

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