Artfully welcoming patients and families to the McMaster Children’s Hospital Child and Youth Mental Health Program
The McMaster Children’s Hospital Child & Youth Mental Health Program held an artwork contest in March of this year, asking participants to create pieces of art for publishing in the program’s Welcome Package. The artwork captures themes of mental health, wellness, hope and support.
The Welcome Package includes a wealth of information for both patients and their parents, on how to prepare before the first visit (in-person and virtual), what to expect during the first visit, the team of health professionals who will work with patients and their families, and much more.
Below are the winners of the artwork contest. Their pieces are featured individually throughout the Welcome Package and a collage of more contest entries is shown at the end. Read what inspired their art and what they hope their work means to patients and families of the program.
“My art was inspired by a project I had done in elementary school. It was to make a monument, to support a cause. As my artistic skills increased, I decided to recreate my piece but with my new knowledge of what mental health meant to me after fighting through my own cancer journey. My sculpture is a brain in a wheelchair. I wanted to show that the mental and emotional aspect of our wellbeing needs to be cared for even though it may not always be visible like a physical disability.
It means a lot to me to be included in this experience. Knowing that others have seen my work, makes me happy letting them know that they are not alone.
When I was at McMaster for cancer treatment, my mental health suffered greatly, and it is something I still work on. It was really hard to process my life was at risk at 12. I had to work through suddenly losing my everyday life and have it replaced with medical talk and isolation from everything I have ever known, and the anxiety of the unknown.
Art is one of the ways I deal with my anxiety, it is a great outlet for me. I’m hoping my art has inspired someone, comforted someone or even made someone smile. No one fights alone.”
“My picture was inspired by the fact that I love butterflies. A lot of my artwork includes butterflies, including a bravery bead that I designed during my journey with cancer. I loves colour and am not afraid to stand out.
I hope that my picture inspires others and lets them know that they are not alone. Art is a great way to express one’s feelings when they cannot find the words.”
“I wanted my poster to be a reminder that you are good enough. Even if the only thing you’ve managed was to eat breakfast this morning, the fact that you’re still here is more than enough. Life is not a competition, no one will judge you more than you judge yourself, we all have bad days, some more than others, but you are certainly not inferior to the rest of the world. You are good enough to be on this earth, no matter your accomplishments.
The slogan “you are enough” is a reminder that you are loved, you deserve good things, you will have many chances in your lifetime, you cannot control everything, you haven’t failed yourself or anyone else, the world does not hate you, and you should be proud of yourself, simply because you’re alive.
As for the purple, floating brains, I wanted them to represent mental illness. Since it’s something that you can’t control or cure with a glass of water or some positive thinking. It’s invisible, but it is a monster that makes your brain its home.
I’m glad I have the opportunity to participate in this story and share my art with others who may be struggling. I know it’s hard to feel like you aren’t alone in this world, during this pandemic especially, so if my poster can help even just one person for a split second, it would mean the world to me. There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and illness that shouldn’t exist. I’m hoping my poster will be able to bring at least some awareness to children and youth who are struggling and are in need of help.”
“Struggling with mental health is difficult. I know what it feels like to get caught in a cycle of thoughts filled with worry, confusion, panic, etc. Sometimes it becomes so overwhelming it’s hard to believe that things can truly get better.
My art is inspired by how discovering my interests helped me reconnect to my authentic self. I’ve come to realize that in our society today we’re constantly being bombarded with messages from the world around us telling us who we’re ‘supposed’ to be. Ultimately this makes it easy to lose sight of who we truly are!
For me focusing more on art instead of my fears, and the things in my life I can’t control has helped me embrace the unknown and develop a stronger sense of what I genuinely value. I hope the theme of possibility comes across in my art and potentially inspires others to find their passions as well as fill their lives with the things they love!
I’m super grateful for the opportunity to be included in the CYMH program materials! I hope the artwork included helps create feelings of strength and hope for other youth and families.”
“My artwork was inspired by my struggles with mental health. The piece represents how negative emotions should never hold someone down and prevent them from doing the things they love. I am extremely grateful to be able to be included in the CYMH program and be allowed the opportunity to share my art and the importance of mental health and wellness.”
We sincerely thank all children and youth who submitted their artwork and appreciate the time and effort that went into creating these unique pieces of art. The Children and Youth Mental Health Welcome Package can be viewed here.