iMiddle Student’s Art Wins Mental Health Awareness Contest
November 1—RiverValley Behavioral Health held a community art contest in May for Mental Health Awareness Month.
The theme was “Be Kind to Your Mind” and seventh grade Owensboro Innovation Middle School Mercy Tanner was announced as the winner for her division.
The school received $500 from RGBH for having a winning student, which was invested in an art cart that students can use throughout the school day.
“The contest was open to all kindergarten through middle school students in our seven service regions and winners were announced and chosen for K-6 and 7-12,” said Brooke Arnold, director of the Regional Prevention Center of RGBH. “Mercy won the K-6 division because she was in sixth grade when she submitted this work.”
Arnold said that students were asked to explain what inspired their works and that pieces were subjected to two rounds of judging, one from an in-group and one from an out-group.
“She received the highest marks for her use of materials,” Arnold said. “His explanation really spoke to the judges.”
Ashton Robertson, youth empowerment prevention specialist at RVBH’s Regional Prevention Centre, said mental health affects anyone, in any form.
“Giving them that platform to speak their mind and show us what it means to them to be kind to their minds empowers them and empowers the students around them to show that schools are a safe place to talk about their mental health,” she said.
Tanner said participating in the contest, for her, is when people are dealing with their own battles.
“It represents when people are going through tough times and other people are helping them,” Tanner said. “Being able to understand that you are struggling and learn to get back up.”
Tanner said she encountered her own challenges when creating her works for the competition.
“I didn’t know what to create and how to portray it,” she said. “It’s hard to represent how other people see the world and their struggles. I wanted to make sure everything I did represented them as well.”
Tanner said the inspiration for his piece came from other people, including community artists.
“[Art] definitely helps my mental health,” she said. “I’m pretty sure others are too.”
Tanner’s mother, Davi, said Tanner has loved art since elementary school and it’s great to see his “natural talent” recognized.
“The art cart that was provided to the school is just a cool representation of RiverValley’s mission to raise mental health awareness, as well as Mercy’s love for art,” said she declared. “I love that she was able to help provide some of that at school for the other students.”