The Competition                            Competition Rules

This years theme is ...

'Yes, Mental Health Matters: Coping with Stress in a Time of Distress'

This year has brought massive changes to our lives that no youth has ever faced before. From online learning to the loss of physical contact, the stress and uncertainty brought on by these massive changes have put a strain on our mental wellbeing. Especially being constantly faced with the anxiety and negativity of the media, it has been difficult to not be affected.

However, it is ok to not feel great. A Youthline survey of youth conducted the April lockdown found that the pandemic had a negative impact on the mental health of 72% of surveyees. What is important is how we overcome these challenges. Therefore, the theme this year focuses on how hope and positivity can be refound.


The pandemic has redefined what wellbeing looks like so new approaches to cope with stress are also needed. There is no correct answer to how to deal with all this stress, however, we hope that your essays can bring insight and new perspectives on dealing with mental health while spreading messages of positivity and hope!

Essay prompts:


  • What does wellbeing look like to you in the pandemic?

  • How have you have looked after your mental health in these times?

  • How has your upbringing or cultural background affected how you have dealt with mental distress?

  • What are some innovative and creative approaches to help other young people cope with stress?

  • How can Te Whare Tapa Whā help to strengthen wellbeing amidst the pandemic?


These are just some recommended topics to talk about in your essay. Please feel free to include whatever you think is relevant to the theme in your essay. 


Competition Rules and Requirements:

The competition is open to all New Zealand students aged between 13 - 18, at the time of submission. Entries open September 28th 2020.


Participation in the competition is free. Each participant is limited to making one entry.


Participants must read the essay writing Guidelines, and all essays should comply with these guidelines. 


Essay entries shall be 600 words or less and must be submitted by Friday, November 6th, 2020 via email to


One winner will be select from each year level and finalists will receive honourable mentions.


Winners will be announced in January 2021. Winners will receive a prize, provided by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, and winners and finalists will have their essay shared on the NZMHAEC website.


By making entering into NZMAHEC, participants giving NZMHAEC the right to share their essays.