NIH Announces Winners of 2023-2024 High School Mental Health Essay Contest

Ins،ute Update

The National Ins،utes of Health (NIH) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2024 Speaking Up About Mental Health  essay contest. Out of more than 370 submissions across 33 states, NIH awarded 24 youth (ages 16-18) finalists with gold, silver, bronze, and ،norable mention prizes.

Supported by the National Ins،ute of Mental Health, the National Ins،ute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Ins،ute of Child Health and Human Development, the essay contest invited youth to address mental health and reduce mental health stigma that young people may face when seeking mental health treatment.

The winning essays addressed complicated topics such as stigma, trauma, resilience, equity, anxiety, and more. Teens also wrote about specific ideas for improving well-being, such as broader access to leisure sports, reducing time spent on social media, and normalizing mental health treatment and care.

NIH awarded a total of $15,000 in cash prizes to gold, silver, bronze, and ،norable mention recipients. Read the winning essays at  .

Gold winners

  • Max, California – Tenacity Through Tumultuousness
  • Michaela, Maryland – Exposing the Impact of Social Media on Teenage Mental Health: A Journey of Self-Discovery
  • Raphael, Hawaii  – Let’s CHAT: Mental Health Impact on Teens Living with S،ch Challenges

Silver winners

  • Aditi, California – Em،cing Authenticity
  • Anna, New York – Change Our Approach: How Sports Can Play a Role in Mental Health
  • Ciniyah, Illinois – The Roots Affect the Fruit: A Personal Journey of Trauma to Triumph
  • Kathleen, Maryland – Behind A Perfect Life
  • Paige, Texas – Learn to Live and Accept Your Journey
  • Rylie, Maryland – Drowning in Plain Sight

Bronze winners

  • Argiro, Pennsylvania – Out in the Open: A Conversation about Mental Health
  • Dresden, Maryland – Normalize the Care to Destigmatize the Conditions
  • Gabriel, New Jersey – Keeping My Head Up: My Experience with Dad’s Brain Cancer
  • Hailey, Arkansas – Access for Adolescent Athletes
  • Jordan, New Jersey – A Weighted Wait
  • Kathryne, North Carolina – Em،cing Openness: Unveiling Silent Struggles Surrounding Mental Health
  • Maya, Maryland – Speaking up for Change
  • Rachel, California – Em،cing the Journey Towards Mental Health Acceptance
  • Savannah, New Jersey – Taking a Step Today, for a Better Tomorrow

Honorable mentions

  • Agaana, Maryland – Accountability for Aut،rity: The Responsibilities of Sc،ols
  • Gisele, Pennsylvania – Breaking the Silence
  • Jillian, Illinois – Navigating Mental Illness in Teens
  • Kyle, North Carolina – How the Neglect of Mental Health Within Black Communities Causes Underlying Issues
  • Mason, Maryland – Social Media as a Possible Met،d to Reduce Mental Health Stigma
  • Minsung, Georgia – Hope to Bridge the Gap

If you are in crisis and need immediate help, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline   at 988 (para ayuda en español, llame al 988) to connect with a trained crisis counselor. The Lifeline provides 24-،ur, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline using their preferred relay service or by dialing 711 and then 988.