| ||March 2014 Writing Contest |
MONTHLY WRITING CONTEST: Welcome to the international writing contests on StageofLife.com. Answer our real-world writing prompt each month to share your thoughts and experiences as we make the world a better place, one story at a time. View winners of past writing contests.
1st Place Writing Contest Winner Receives Prize Package
Writing Contest Topic: March Madness - Let's Talk about Mental Health
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~ Brené Brown
|ENTER YOUR ESSAY...
Submit Your Essay:
In 500 words or less, share your story of dealing with mental health or mental illness issues. These can be stories about yourself, living with family members who have mental illness, friends, or a broader take on the topic of mental health / mental illness.
Click the blue "Submit Essay" button to the right.
Title of Essay: When you submit your essay, title it as: "March Madness: ______"
Include the words "March Madness" as part of your title (in the Story Title field), but then make the rest of your story title unique. Examples...
- March Madness: Overcoming my struggle with depression
- March Madness: Tired of the stigma
- March Madness: The dark hole of SAD
- March Madness: My best friend’s suicide
Writing Contest Details:
Write a personal essay of 500 words or less that develops your ideas and your personal story about the topic of mental illness and mental health.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 people will suffer from some form of mental illness at some point in their lives. For a problem so large, why is the stigma surrounding it even larger?
People don’t talk about mental health issues or mental illness because of the shame and brokenness surrounding the topic.
For March, we encourage you to be vulnerable (as Brene Brown’s quotation suggests) and share your story surrounding this important topic.
We want to hear your stories about struggles and triumphs with mental illness - from seasonal mood disorder to schizophrenia, from depression to eating disorders, from ADHD to anxiety, this month centers on something that touches almost all of our lives in some way, but few are brave enough to share.
You never know who your words will touch, so be brave and share your story about mental illness and mental health.
Consider these questions to spur ideas as you write your personal essay...
- Do you suffer from mental illness?
- Do you know someone who suffers from mental illness?
- How do you or the person you know cope?
- Do you believe people feel free to talk about mental illness in your school? In your community? In your home?
- How has the mental illness of someone you love affect you?
- If this is such a big issue, why aren’t more people talking about it?
Don't answer each of these questions in your essay. Rather, what we want to see is a stylistic, personal essay that shares your personal experience or journey with mental illness or mental health.
- What stigmas surround the topic of mental illness and mental health?
We look forward to reading your story for this month's writing contest.
Rules: Two simple rules for the Stage of Life writing contest. 1) This is a Non-Fiction essay contest. 2) Essays are 500 words or less.
Deadline: Midnight March 31, 2014 Pacific Time US
Results: Finalists, Runners Up, and the Winner will be posted on our writing contest winners page after April 20th, 2014.
1) “A Campaign Urges Listening to Those Torn by Mental Illness” by Andrew Adam Newman (New York Times)
- Explains the IWillListen Campaign by NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness
2) “First Up: Mental Illness. Next Topic is up to you” by Nicholas Kristoff (New York Times)
- Gives startling statistics about the mental illness national epidemic
3) “How to Avoid Cabin Fever During this Endless Winter” by Eliana Dockterman (Time Health and Family)
4) “Troubled Children” - a collection of articles and videos (New York Times)
- A really good resource with tons of information about mental health issues and how they affect our country’s children and teens.
1) Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic
Recommended Videos about Mental Health
2) Thomas Insel: Toward a New Understanding of Mental Illness
- This TEDTalk went viral due to Breel’s no nonsense approach to a very serious topic. With vulnerability, this 19-year-old shares his struggle with depression and urges others to stand up and talk about it.
3) Glennon Doyle Melton: Lessons from the Mental Hospital
- A look at the statistics surrounding mental illness and a new way to think about treating mental illness. This is a bit slow, but the first few minutes are full of great statistics.
4) Elyn Saks: A Tale of Mental Illness ---- from the inside
- A very honest and thought provoking look at feelings and rebuilding a life after mental illness. Author of the popular blog “Tales from the Momastery” and author of the book ‘Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed’
- Award winning author of The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks recounts her struggles with schizophrenia.
5) Ruby Wax: What’s so funny about mental illness?
6) Vikram Patel: Mental Health for all by involving all
- A face paced and funny approach to Wax’s own struggle with mental illness and the broader issues surrounding mental illness.
- A look at the world problem of mental illness and a proposed solution that involves people being trained to help each other.
YouTube Videos about Mental Health
Talk to Someone
SAFE is a student led organization from West Kent, UK that urges teens to talk to someone about the problems they face with with mental illness
What is Mental Illness?
A US-based scientific summary of what mental illness is (with good statistics)
A good general video about mental illness (done in a creative way) from an Australian organization.
Writing Contest Prize Package
The person who writes the 1st place essay will receive a $50 SpaWeek.com gift card and a $25 Applebee's gift card.
One winner will be selected from across all non-student life stage essay writers
SWAG package from StageofLife.com
National exposure for your essay from StageofLife.com
Winners will be contacted via a post on their story once judging is complete (approx. 30 days after contest ending). An email will be sent to the winner to get the address for the prize package approx. 1-2 months afterwards.
Please thank our sponsors, Applebee's and SpaWeek.com for supporting the blogging contests, writing programs and literacy initiatives on StageofLife.com
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|Contact Us about this Writing Contest
EXTRA INFORMATION AND RULES FOR THE WRITING CONTEST...
Be Real. Be Yourself: The strongest submissions for this essay contest will use a personal tone and point-of-view writing style that shares your thoughts on the topic. If you want to make your essay even stronger, we recommend doing a little research and adding quotes or a statistic (or two).
- Essays should be 500 words or less.
- You are welcome to blog on StageofLife.com as much as you want, but only ONE essay submission per user for the writing contest is allowed.
- Please be creative with your title, then type or cut and paste your full essay from a program like NotePad or TextEdit (don't use any formatting - just text, please) into the Story Details field (which will appear after you click the Submit Essay button above.
- Adjust the spacing of your essay within the essay submit form.
- Title your essay using the instructions above so our Editors can find it in the story feeds in your life stage homepage on the website. Example: Here's where the high school student submissions get posted - High School
- StageofLife.com is a non-partisan literacy initiative. We judge the writing contest submissions not on the political or religious stance of our writers, but rather on how creative, original, passionate, and well written the essays are. See below for more details on our judging policy.
- Read these tips for good essay writing to be considered a writing contest finalist
- You will need to login to StageofLife.com to submit your writing contest entry. If you don't have a StageofLife.com login, please register for StageofLife.com (it's free).
Prize Package: The winning writer will receive...
- A highlight as the Winning Essay on StageofLife.com
- Prize from the writing contest sponsor mentioned above.
- A mention and link to your essay in Stage of Life's national monthly press release - here's a link to one of our press releases for reference.
- NOTE: Winners will be contacted via a post on their story once judging is complete (approx. 30 days after contest ending). An email will be sent to the winner to get the address for the prize package approx. 2-3 months afterwards.
Free Essay Contest:
This is a free writing contest. StageofLife.com does not require a submission fee. ONE ESSAY ENTRY PER PERSON FOR THE WRITING CONTEST. However, you are welcome to blog about your life or other topics outside of this writing contest at any time on StageofLife.com
Last day of the month at midnight Pacific Standard Time (US). StageofLife.com time stamps all essays in Greenwich Mean Time (England) as we are an international writing initiative. International student submissions are welcome.
Of the submitted essays to StageofLife.com for a given writing contest prompt, one student winner and one adult winner will be selected. The winner and semi-finalists will be announced after the 20th of the following month. Winner and semi-finalists will be contacted by a StageofLife.com staffer via the email used to register for the website.
As we state in our Writing Contest Rules and Judging Criteria, student writers selected as our national essay finalists and winner(s) will demonstrate strong writing skills, a unique point-of-view, personal tone, originality, and realness in their essay.
The reason that journalists and organizations ranging from TIME.com to Mint Education have featured our essays (especially our teen posts) in the national media is because our bloggers all write from the heart. Real people sharing real stories about their lives. Combine this with our position as one of the only international, non-partisan, literacy platforms in the world and you'll find Stage of Life an open environment to share your ideas.
We'd like to encourage all participants and readers to make comments on these writing contest essays. Please just remember to keep all comments/posts/discussions civil and in good taste in each of the essay-blog threads, especially since some of our writing prompts are sensitive in nature. Nasty comments, personal attacks, or other such comments are not allowed and will be removed should they come to our attention.
If you have questions about the rules or judging criteria for our writing contests, you can visit our Rules & Judging Criteria page.
Last Words - Share Your Story:
Our hope is that your writing contest submission will positively impact others and help with our mission of making the world a better place, one story at a time. Your essay may inspire others or even better, give you an opportunity to share a story that's simply important to you.
After you've submitted your essay, feel free to share the link to your essay on Facebook or Twitter. Our essays are judged by real Editors, not popularity, but we do like to spread the word about our national, grassroots writing contest. Also, please share this writing contest with Language Arts, English and History teachers, or on your blog or website.
If you know a teacher who would like a Stage of Life writing contest poster for his or her classroom, have them contact us.
Read more about StageofLife.com and our mission
Good luck! Scroll back up and click on the "Submit Essay" button to upload your essay.