Students in grades 9 through 12 are invited to compete for cash prizes by sharing thoughts about “Why Are Things So Difficult Even Though I Try So Hard?” the theme for this year’s annual essay contest presented by The Mental Health Association of the North Shore (MHANS).

The contest is open to all high school students.  Prizes in two categories, 9th-and10th-graders and 11th-and12th-graders, include $600 for first place, $300 for second place, and $100 for third place and $50 Honorable Mention.  MHANS hopes that the contest will bring awareness to the value of caring for one’s mental health by diminishing the stigma related to sharing possibly difficult feelings and concerns that are often common to young people.

 Students are asked to share their unique, powerful and compelling story using examples and/or personal experiences relating to this year’s topic.  One question to consider in thinking about this year’s topic is “How do the tensions in my home affect my work at school, relationships and other activities?”  Also students are encouraged to think about healthy ways they can cope when feeling overwhelmed by high expectations set by family or peers and whether or not just giving up is an option.  “How does money (or lack of money) get in the way of accomplishing my goals?” is another question to consider when approaching the topic.

Essays should be no more than 500 words, typed, double-spaced and written in 12 point font.  Entries must be e-mailed, info@mhans.org, or postmarked, by April 3, 2010 to the Mental Health Association of the North Shore, 2120 Lincoln Street, Evanston, Illinois 60201.  For entry instructions and additional information visit the MHANS web site at www.mhans.org or call the MHANS office at 847-328-6198.

 The Mental Health Association of the North Shore (MHANS) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and directs its education programs to all community members with a strong focus on youth mental health and social-emotional wellness.  MHANS advocacy outreach is focused on helping individuals and families affected by mental and emotional disorders through education by reducing stigma and discrimination.