How might we view healing in mental health through art, letters, stories, and poetry following the pandemic?

As of July 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic had infected over 570 million individuals and caused approximately 6.38 million deaths globally [1]. Not only did COVID-19 directly impact the physical health of the global population but also exacerbated its mental health due to the challenges and losses it brought.

Mental health outcomes linked to a pandemic constitute a complex and multi-layered concern [2]. While nearly 1 billion people suffer from a mental health condition [3], the most extreme and discernible mental health emergency is suicide with almost 800,000 people committing suicide every year [4]. Though services and systems need consistent assessment and adaptations to create and sustain appropriate, effective interventions [5, 6], now more than ever, we need to incorporate the public’s views of healing in the design of mental health services and encourage them to share their own perspectives about their health to allow for listening, learning, and healing. How do we address and improve mental health outcomes? How do we offer healing following the pandemic?

Note: At this time, submissions will only be accepted if written in English. Submissions should not have been previously published and should be properly formatted with little to no grammatical errors. Submissions will be accepted via Submittable. Please do not include any identifying information in your uploaded file.


Letters should be between 250 to 500 words. Letter submissions should be typed in 12-point font, Arial or Calibri, and single-spaced. Acceptable file types include: .csv, .doc, .docx, .odt, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .wpd, and .wpf.


Poems should be between 250 to 500 words. Poetry submissions should be typed in 12-point font, Arial or Calibri, and single-spaced. Acceptable file types include: .csv, .doc, .docx, .odt, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .wpd, and .wpf.


Stories should be between 1000 to 2000 words. Story submissions should be typed in 12-point font, Arial or Calibri, and single-spaced. Acceptable file types include: .csv, .doc, .docx, .odt, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .wpd, and .wpf.


Artwork should be visual art and include a short narrative to briefly describe or introduce the illustration, painting, etc. Acceptable file types include: .csv, .doc, .docx, .odt, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .wpd, .wpf, .gif, .jpg, .png, .svg, and .tif.

"Surprise Us"

While we ask for artwork, letters, poems, and stories, we know that people are very talented and have other ways of expressing themselves. If your submission does not fit into one of the other four categories, please submit it here. We will be happy to view whatever you surprise us with! Acceptable file types include those of text, images, audio, video, and others. Please email us at if your file is not accepted. Disclaimer: Artwork, letters, poems, and stories that are submitted to “Surprise Us” will be disqualified. Please submit them to their corresponding sections.

We include a form on Submittable that is entitled “Under 18 Submissions” where all individuals under the age of 18 can submit their creative work in any of our five categories (art, letters, poetry, stories, “surprise us”).


If you have questions about how or if your piece fits into our guidelines and answers the contest question, please view our “frequently asked questions” section below or contact us via email at

Terms of Use & Confidentiality

Before submitting to LIGHT, you will be asked to acknowledge and agree to the following:

. I assure that the work I am submitting to LIGHT is original work, owned by myself, OR I have partial ownership of the work and am submitting the work with consent from the person or people who also have ownership of the work. I, or we (if submitting with others), take full responsibility of its veracity falling to myself or my team as authors.
. I attest that the work I am submitting has not been previously published elsewhere (an exception is if it has been published on a personal website, blog, Spotify, etc.).
. I give LIGHT the right to edit, duplicate, and publish my creative work in their open-access literary journal and disseminate this work for promotional reasons via any type of media to a broader audience.
. I understand LIGHT reserves the right to refuse to publish any work that may be deemed harmful, slanderous, or malicious, etc., regardless of how well written it is.
. I acknowledge that I will not receive any compensation for LIGHT's use of my creative work, except that of a monetary prize if my creative work places as a top submission (see LIGHT’s open call prizes for more details).
. I understand that I cannot make a claim as a violation against usage rights against LIGHT related to the use of my creative work. If submitting concurrently, I will withdraw my submission if it is accepted elsewhere.
. I understand that I own all rights to my submission post-publication, and I will credit LIGHT as the original publisher if I choose to publish my creative work elsewhere.
. If my submission is selected to be included in the LIGHT journal, I recognize my name will be published with it.
. If submitting as part of a group, I agree that all group members consent to these terms.

Confidentiality Kindly note the privacy of individuals should be protected. Public health practitioners who write about individuals and communities should alter identifying details and characteristics.


The deadline for all submissions in each category is Tuesday, November 1, 2022, by 11:59pm CST. All submissions should follow LIGHT guidelines.

Potential Timeline

Open call launch: August 1, 2022


Open call deadline: November 1, 2022


Review, judging, and editing: November and December 2022


Finalist notifications by: December 31, 2022


Journal production begins: January 2022


Expected journal release: Summer 2023


WHO Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard [Internet]. [cited 24 July 2023]. Available from:


Connell J, Brazier J, O’Cathain A, Lloyd-Jones M, Paisley S. Quality of life of people with mental health problems: a synthesis of qualitative research. Health and quality of life outcomes. 2012 Dec;10(1):1-6.


World Health Organization. World Mental Health Day: an opportunity to kick- start a massive scale-up in investment in mental health [Internet]. 2020. Available from: health-day-an-opportunity-to-kick-start-a-massive-scale-up-in-investment-in- mental-health#:~:text=Mental%20health%20is%20one%20of,every%2040%20seconds% 20by%20suicide.


Talevi D, Socci V, Carai M, Carnaghi G, Faleri S, Trebbi E, di Bernardo A, Capelli F, Pacitti F. Mental health outcomes of the CoViD-19 pandemic. Rivista di psichiatria. 2020 May 1;55(3):137-44.


Moreno C, Wykes T, Galderisi S, Nordentoft M, Crossley N, Jones N, Cannon M, Correll CU, Byrne L, Carr S, Chen EY. How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2020 Sep 1;7(9):813-24.

In a world where the public is absent in conversations about the public’s health, a group of individuals began a mission to give voice to the most fundamental aspect of public health—the people. learn more
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Saint Louis University, College for Public Health and Social Justice
Texas A&M University, College of Liberal Arts & School of Public Health