Art contest promotes mental health awareness

Justina Gazso

Justina Gazso of Niles, Ohio, a graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, is the winner of the first annual Mental Health Awareness Art Contest at Youngstown State University.

“It is so important we break the stigma around mental health and promote the importance of taking that first step to help one's self,” said Gazso, who had counseling as a teenager. “I hope my art can instill that hope for people that they can always take a step to help themselves.”

Gazso’s winning artwork will be unveiled 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, at Student Counseling Services on the second floor of Kilcawley Center on campus and will be displayed in the Center’s waiting room.

The art contest is the brainchild of Anne Lally, YSU assistant director of Student Counseling.  Lally said she hopes the contest gives YSU students an opportunity to have ownership of the Student Counseling Services.

“Student ownership and involvement in Student Counseling will further assist in reducing the stigma surrounding seeking services for mental health on our campus community and increase the comfort level of coming to Student Counseling,” she said.

Gazso is also a graduate assistant in YSU’s Housing & Residence Life. 

“My art reflects how hard mental health can be as it can change your whole outlook on life and make it a little darker,” she said. “It is also different for each person. The different experiences people have, how they handle those experiences, the tools they have, and where they are at in life can all have major impacts on people. However, there is always more room for growth and possibilities.”