Right now in Sydney, Australia, you can walk down a beautiful beach and see dozens of jaw-dropping, mind-bending sculptures.

Billed as the "world's largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition," "Sculpture by the Sea" was started 18 years ago on a budget of just $11,000 and now draws over 500,000 visitors a year. These amazing photos were taken by Lisa Maree Williams.

Despite the idyllic setting, the sculptures are — like most art — intended to make you think deep thoughts.

While it's impossible to know which deep thoughts the artists were going for (and it's rude to ask), these are my best guesses. Your deep thoughts may vary. Unlimited deep thoughts per customer.

1. "The Bottles" by RCM Collective

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Stop throwing plastic bottles into the ocean, or one day they'll gain sentience and seek revenge on your terrified children.

2. "Transmigration" by Jeremy Sheehan

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Dumping chemicals in the ocean poisons fish, which leads, ultimately, to rickety birds.

3. "Half Gate" by Matthew Asimakis, Clarence Lee, and Caitlin Roseby

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

We can make our prisons more humane. Just maybe don't make it so easy to escape.

4. "The Navigator" by Calvert and Schiltz

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

There's nothing more soothing than riding a hyena into the sea. Nothing.

5. "Open" by Peter Lundberg

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Let's talk to each other more. Preferably through giant stone holes, if possible.

6. "Outside-in" by William Feuerman

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

If I see the sculpture, does the sculpture ... see me?

7. "Surfer's Paradise" by James Rogers

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Life's too short to always speak into the correct end of the megaphone.

8. "Space Time Continuum v4" by Clayton Thompson

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

The universe is, like, big, man.

9. "Fun" by Naidee Changmoh and "Fabrication" by Veronica Herber

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Get that baby an agent!

10. "Voyagers I & II" by Margarita Sampson

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Again, be kind to the birds, even if they're slow-moving and flightless.

11. "Cairn" by Morgan Jones

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

A moment of silence, please.

12. "The Thing Which Has Come Here" by Masayuki Sugiyama

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Obsidian sea monsters deserve love too.

13. "Meditation" by Seung Hwan Kim

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Please be more careful when stacking the chairs.

14. "Divided Planet" by Jörg Plickat

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Love is kinda neat.

15. "Cradle of Form" by Elyssa Sykes-Smith

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Don't play a big game of Jenga on top of a mountain.

16. "Harbour" by Chen Wenling

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Outdoor yoga is the slam.

17. "Forest" by Deborah Sleeman

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

If you keep putting poison into the air, we'll basically be left with tiny chickens, fish tails, and mushrooms made of metal, in terms of nature.

18. "Keep Safe/Keepsake" by Sandra Pitkin

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Seriously. If you keep putting poison into the air, we're going to have to take all the trees and put them in boxes so you idiots can't hurt them anymore. Remember this Joni Mitchell song? That was a warning. We will seriously make the tree museum happen.

19. "Dust" by Norton Flavel

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Maybe giants don't do jazz hands.

20. "The Bell" by Ruth Liou

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Why do lighthouses have to be so tall, anyway?

21. "Intuitive Sense of Connection" by Andrea Vinkovic

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

We humans may fight, hurt, even kill each other, but at the end of the day, we are all one medium-sized lattice ball.

22. "Wind Blowing" by Koichi Ishino

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

When you trust fall into the sea, everyone wins.

23. "Cycle of Life" by Ron Gomboc

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

"The Lion King" still holds up pretty well.

24. "Lonis" by Robert Hague

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Aren't we all the king of the world? Sometimes?

25. "Crate Poems" by Alessandra Rossi

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Maybe a bottle isn't the best delivery mechanism for a message after all.

26. "Conspicuous Consumption" by Benson Sculpture

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Maybe let's not waste so much paper all the time?

27. "Open Home" by Kate Carroll and "Fabrication" by Veronica Herber

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Do I really need to knock down that wall to build a home office? Do I really need the extra space?

28. "Middleground" by Philip Spelman

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Relationships are hard work.

29. "Acoustic Chamber" by Arissara Reed and Davin Nurimba

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Listen to your heart when he's calling for you.

30. "Wave 2" by Annette Thas

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Seriously. Stop throwing plastic into the ocean.

31. "The Bridge" by Linda Bowden

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

Be good to one another. And enjoy the sunset!

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.


Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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