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The Competition                            Competition Rules

This years theme is ...

Blooming From Within: Cultivating Wellness in a Busy World.

In the digital realm, virtual avatars serve as representations of individuals in various online platforms. However, despite the promise of anonymity and freedom from physical attributes, virtual environments are not exempt from the pervasive influence of discrimination. This thesis explores the existence of unseen barriers and the discrimination that lurks behind virtual avatars.

In recent years, the exponential growth of virtual reality (VR) and online gaming communities has provided fertile ground for studying the manifestations of discrimination in virtual spaces. While users may appear to be equal behind their avatars, social prejudices and biases from the real world can seep into these digital landscapes. Discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and even disability can manifest in virtual interactions, leading to exclusion, harassment, and unequal treatment.

By shedding light on the unseen barriers and discrimination lurking behind virtual avatars, this thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of the complex dynamics of prejudice and discrimination in contemporary society. It emphasizes the need for awareness, education, and intervention to foster inclusive and equitable virtual environments that reflect the values of equality and respect for all.

Essay prompts:


  • How does cyberbullying impact mental health and how would you foster a more supportive and healthy online Environment?​

  • How does online disinhibition effect the mental health of the victims and the perpetrators involved?                             ​​​​

  • What are responsibilities social media platforms have on discrimination and promotion of mental health? Why do these social media platforms have such a huge influence on mental health?​

  • Discuss the physiological impact of witnessing discrimination and racism on social media, both as a target and as a bystander.​

  • Discuss the role of anonymity and how this promotes discriminatory behavior on social media.


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 23rd 2024.


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 Wednesday, October 1st, 2024 via email to


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


Winners will be announced on December 8th 2024. 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.

Competition Rules and Requirement
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