Mental health in pictures

Date of competition: October 22 – December 22


We believe that art is fundamental in building a culture of greater care and sensitivity towards mental health, to encourage open dialog about all the emotions and sensations that permeate human existence. Using art as a form of communication is one of the most effective ways to combat the stigma associated with mental health. 

That’s why, in commemoration of World Mental Health Day in October 2022, we launched our first contest, “Mental Health in Pictures,” intended to destigmatize mental health through photography, through a diversity of perspectives, and to foster artistic and cultural creation of a humanized narrative on the subject. 

With the theme “Mental health is in every moment, we just have to realize it,” 34 participants from all over the country entered the contest. The plurality and diversity of views captured by photographic lenses helped to support construction of a culture of greater care and sensitivity in mental health and encourage open dialogues about all the emotions and sensations that permeate human existence.

The competition awarded prizes in three categories, judged by three juries: the technical jury, made up of three professional photographers; the internal jury, from the Cactus Institute and, finally, the popular jury, in which the general public could choose their favorite photo. The three winning photographers received prizes of both cash and a photography workshop.  

the technical jury

Photography: A Clínica Peripatética: Verso e Revers

Photographer: Mab Amália Alencar Sacramento De Souza

the internal jury

Photography: Encardido de Alegria

Photographer: Beto Ambrósio

the popular jury

Photography: Dentro

Photographer: Angélica Goudin


  • 34 entries from all over Brazil;
  • 3 photos awarded prizes by the technical, internal and popular juries;
  • Closed partnerships to promote the photos in Metro subway stations;
  • Strengthening the culture of destigmatization of mental health in Brazil.


  • A medium as popular as photography can be used as a tool to broaden mental health debate and care;
  • Different perspectives and different narratives can make up the diversity and multidimensionality of mental health;
  • We can use art in its different forms to illustrate perspectives on mental health.


The contest was so successful that the photos were exhibited to the public. In 2023, in partnership with Metro subway lines in the city of São Paulo, the Cactus Institute held a traveling exhibition in subway and train stations around the city. In addition to presenting the photos that won prizes in the photo contest, the exhibition provided information on mental health for the users of rail transportation. 

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