‘Drawn Together’ billboard raises youth mental health advocacy to new heights

Mental Health Awareness Billboard
Charlszetta Tate, Sarah Magana and Warren Bradley from College Hospital Costa Mesa, Giuliana Valdovinos from OCDE and Amy Durham from NAMI OC unveiled a billboard featuring the artwork of student Sara Yoo (center) on Sept. 23 at The Outlets at Orange.

A 50-foot-wide billboard intended to raise awareness and encourage conversations about mental health among youth is on display for thousands of visitors to view each week at The Outlets at Orange. 

The large display located above Dave & Buster’s was revealed on Sept. 23. It prominently features the winning submission from the Mental Health Awareness Student Art Contest and a QR code that leads to a website with support resources. 

Earlier this year, College Hospital Costa Mesa reached out to the Orange County Department of Education and National Alliance on Mental Illness Orange County — or NAMI OC — seeking to collaborate on an initiative to support training and outreach relating to mental health. 

With the help from NAMI OC’s CEO Amy Durham and Event Manager Jennifer Lewis and Giuliana Valdovinos, a regional mental health coordinator at OCDE, the group launched an art contest in May during Mental Health Awareness. The competition’s theme of “Drawn Together” encouraged middle and high school students to use their artistic talents to advocate for mental health and encourage young people to connect with others to foster a more positive sense of well-being.

The submissions of original art pieces were displayed at the Orange County National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk 2023 on Aug. 26 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, where participants were invited to vote for their favorite entry. 

Brea Olinda High School senior Sara Yoo from the Brea Olinda Unified School District won first place. She was followed by Laguna Hills High School student Skylar Yoast from the Saddleback Valley Unified School District and Orange County School of the Arts student Alba Guadalupe Martinez. 

Sara was formally recognized during an unveiling ceremony for the billboard. She was also given a $500 gift card to Michaels Stores. All three students’ pieces will be reproduced and distributed throughout Orange County Schools to promote mental health awareness. 

For more information about mental health resources that are offered by NAMI OC, visit: https://www.namioc.org/help-support-overview.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, anxiety or suicidal ideation, here are a few free resources available to help:

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 1-800-273-8255 is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline that’s available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. It provides Spanish-speaking counselors, as well as options for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
  • The Crisis Text Line. The Crisis Text Line is the only 24/7, nationwide crisis-intervention text message hotline. Text HOME to 741-741.
  • OC WarmLine. Available 24/7, the OC WarmLine is a free and confidential telephone service providing emotional support and resources to Orange County residents. Call 714-991-6412 or visit namioc.org/oc-warmline for more information. 
  • National Parent Helpline. This hotline provides emotional support and empowerment strategies to strengthen families. Call 1-855-4A PARENT(1-855-427-2736) 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
  • 2-1-1 OC. This service connects Orange County’s most vulnerable residents with vital health and human service resources. Call 888-600-4357 or visit www.211oc.org.