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Laramie eighth grader’s winning Doodle for Google design brings attention to mental health

A brightly colored doodle of the word “Google.” The “G” is a cracked bottle of emotions, leaking out as fog. That fog creates a rain cloud over the first “O,” where the figure of a person is lying on a brain and looking in pain. The next “O” is a heart, with a person sitting on top and smiling under a sun and rainbow. The next “G” is a stethoscope, followed by a green “L” with a ribbon wrapped around it and a red “E” with a bandage on it.
Caroline Henson
Doodle for Google
Caroline Henson’s winning drawing for this year’s Doodle for Google competition. Her doodle is about creating more awareness around mental health and plays on the concept of “bottling up your emotions.”

Every year, the Doodle for Google contest highlights creativity from student artists around the country. This year’s winner from Wyoming is Caroline Henson, an eighth grader from the University of Wyoming Lab School in Laramie, and she’s using her doodle to shine a light on mental health.

In celebration of their 25th anniversary, Google asked students to share art about their wish for the next 25 years for the company’s annual drawing contest. Students from all over the country submitted tens of thousands of creative doodles representing their hopes for the decades to come, and only 55 winners from the country’s states and territories were selected.

Henson’s brightly colored marker doodle features a leaking bottle of emotions, rain, sunshine and a stethoscope. She said she’s always had a huge fascination with psychology, specifically forensic psychology, and added many of her friends struggle with mental health. Her wish for the future is for more awareness and more access to mental health care.

A middle school girl wearing a pink sweatshirt, white shirt and pink sweatpants stands in front of a big screen projecter with her art design on it. She is pointing to the design and talking to a classroom of other students.
Sandy Hsu
Caroline Henson explains her winning Doodle for Google design to her classroom at the UW Laboratory School.

“Therapy is very expensive and not everyone has the money to afford that,” she said. “A lot of people also struggle with having the confidence to talk to people. I wish that people could be more accepting so they could talk more about their mental health.”

In her free time, Henson plays piano and likes to draw, especially with colored pencils and graphite. She’d known about the Doodle for Google contest for a long time, but she only submitted something thanks to her mom’s encouragement. Henson said her doodle plays on the imagery of bottling up your emotions.

“It's all in this bottle and someone's drinking it. It's going into their minds and creates a rain cloud. And in order to get rain away, you have to have sun, so the person who's under a rain cloud is talking to someone who has sun near them,” she said.

Henson knew she wanted to do a doodle focused on mental health, but the actual design came to her while on a walk with her dog. She said she checked in with her friends to see what they thought about the design, but it didn’t end up requiring much tweaking at all.

“I really only started the full concept on the day of the due date,” she said. “I kind of just stuck to the rough draft idea and then made that the final draft.”

Earlier this week, Henson received a surprise celebration at her school from Google, complete with balloons and her art on a big-screen projector.

Henson’s mental health doodle is now in the running to become one of five national finalists in the competition. The national winner’s doodle will be featured on Google’s homepage for a day. The artist will receive a $50,000 college scholarship, as well as a $50,000 supplies and tech package for their school or non-profit organization. Voting is open until June 4.

Hannah Habermann is the rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has a degree in Environmental Studies and Non-Fiction Writing from Middlebury College and was the co-creator of the podcast Yonder Lies: Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. Hannah also received the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing & Journalism Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council in 2021 and has taught backpacking and climbing courses throughout the West.
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