A record number of south-west Victorian students have illustrated their thoughts on drugs and alcohol and mental health in a new art competition.

Sixty three entries have been submitted to the 2015 Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) Art in Schools competition which focuses on substance use and mental health.

The competition winners will be announced at the Artery in Warrnambool from 6pm Wednesday night May 13 and all entries will be on display for the next two weeks.

The students from South West TAFE, Warrnambool College, Brauer College, King’s College, Emmanuel College, Terang College, Timboon P 12 School and Camperdown College are competing for more than $1000 in prizes.

Students this year have been asked to submit entries on the theme `Everyone’s Business – Healthy Strong Communities’.

WRAD Improved Services Co-ordinator, Angela Alexander, said the competition had grown in popularity over the past four years and had elicited diverse and deeply emotive works.

“The art works are supported by reflective and descriptive artistic statements which the students prepare as part of their entry,” Ms Alexander said. “There has been overwhelming enthusiasm for the competition and significant skills and passion demonstrated by students.”

The competition was introduced to encourage young people to discuss sensitive issues around substance abuse and mental health.

WRAD Director Geoff Soma said it was important for the whole community to consider how young people view alcohol and drug and mental health issues.

“We tend to look at things from an adult perspective but art gives young people an opportunity to express how these issues affect them,” Mr Soma. “We can learn from their art.”

Warrnambool Art Gallery’s Gareth Colliton, WRAD Board member Glenys Phillpot and Dr Liza McCosh from Scope Gallery are judging the entries to decide on the three top award winners. WRAD staff and people’s choice awards will also be presented.

The works will be on display from May 13-31 at the Artery at 224 Timor Street Warrnambool.

The exhibition will be unveiled and winners announced from 6pm on May 13. Guest speaker at the launch will be art historian, author and lecturer Andrew MacKenzie who received an OAM in 2014 for his service to the community of Marysville, the arts and to the preservation of local history.

The WRAD Art in School competition is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.

For more information contact WRAD on 1300 009723 or visit www.wrad.org.au.