Students in grades 9 through 12 are invited to compete for cash prizes by sharing thoughts about “How Has Social Media Affected Your Relationships,” the theme for this year’s annual essay contest presented by Mental Health America of the North Shore (MHANS).  The contest is open to high school boys and girls.  Prizes in two categories, 9th-10th graders and 11th-12th graders include $400 for first place, $200 for second place, and $100 for third place, and $50 for 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 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 are your Facebook friendships different than your face-to-face friendships?”  Also, students are encouraged to think about healthy ways they can cope when feeling overwhelmed by the constant connection that social media outlets provide.  “How has social media helped or hurt your relationships with friends, classmates or family?”  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 should be mailed, or emailed (info@mhans.org) to Mental Health America of the North Shore, 2120 Lincoln Street, Evanston, Illinois 60201 and postmarked by April 9, 2011.  For additional information visit the MHANS home page, www.mhans.org 

Mental Health America of the North Shore (MHANS) 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 by reducing stigma and discrimination.  The 2011 MHANS High School Essay Contest is generously supported by the Forrest E. Powell Foundation. 

For information or a copy of rules for this year’s contest, please call 847-328-6198 or visit www.mhans.org