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As the COVID pandemic increased local mental health needs, it has inspired local artists to share their paintings to help those needs.

In its first-ever Maps Art Auction, the event reflects what Maps Counseling Services executive director Bethann Clauss calls “a difficult year of quarantines and restrictions.”

“It’s been a long, hard year for folks in mental health. Services are in extremely high demand as more and more people are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression and increased suicidality and family conflict,” Clauss said.

The auction will be May 23 through 30 on the Maps Counseling Services Facebook page. Please see the website for more information and accommodation for those not online. May is National Mental Health Awareness month and the EarthSong arts collective is donating their art for the Maps Art Auction

The May Art Auction will help to subsidize scholarships and therapy groups.

“We’ve been trying to increase accessibility to larger numbers,” Clauss said. “We’re currently offering three support groups. … a cancer support group, a grandparents’ group for those caring for their grandchildren, and a parents’ group for those who have been separated from their children who are working towards reunification to maximize their success.”

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Maps Counseling Services helps clients in Cheshire and Hillsborough counties find a spot of light by integrating spirituality into their practice since 1973. The nonprofit agency has 17 licensed therapists, three interns and two residents who are not yet licensed clinicians.

A dozen local artists will contribute their paintings through Earthsong arts collective.

“Once COVID hit we were aware that many people had been impacted in so many ways,” said Ilona Kwiecien, an Earthsong member. “Mental health is a huge issue as a result of all these trials that people have gone through. There’s going to be a lot of mental health assistance that people are going to need.”

For Kwiecien, during COVID, something nice came out for her in a spot of light in an otherwise dark painting. “That spot of light represents the hope that this too shall pass,” Kwiecien said.

You can find information regarding the Maps Art Auction on Facebook (Maps Counseling Service) and on the web page, mapsnh.org, throughout the month of May in celebration of National Mental Health Awareness Month.