Autumn arts festival tackles mental health stigma

Posted on 04/10/2014 by


striking sculpture at Summerhall

striking sculpture at Summerhall

A national festival aiming to tackle the stigma of mental health launches across Edinburgh and the Lothians this weekend.

The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival aims to challenge preconceived ideas of mental health as well as celebrate the artistic achievements of those with lived experience of mental health issues.

More than 65 events will be taking place across Edinburgh and the Lothians exploring this year’s theme of personal,  political and social power. The programme includes film, theatre, music, dance, photography, comedy, storytelling and guided walks, with many of the performances and activities free of charge.

The festival, which is celebrating its seventh year in Lothian, officially launched yesterday with Out of Sight/Out of Mind, an exhibition featuring work by artists with experience of mental health issues.

The exhibition, which is free, opens to the public at Summerhall, Edinburgh today and will also appear at Ocean Terminal, Central Library, Edinburgh University Chaplaincy Centre and Portobello Library throughout the month.

Linda Irvine, Strategic Programme Manager, Mental Health and Wellbeing, NHS Lothian, said: “One in four people in Scotland will experience mental health problems at some point in their life. We know the arts have the power to tackle the stigma associated with mental ill health and promote recovery.

“This year’s festival features a number of inspiring and provocative events, from hard-hitting theatre to family storytelling events and there really is something for everyone.”

Jane Crawford, Co-ordinator of The Consultation & Advocacy Promotion Service (CAPS), an independent advocacy organisation for people who use or have used mental health services, said: “The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival is a very powerful focus for people to convey their feelings and experiences of mental health in a creative way. Advocacy is all about giving people a voice and this can be done in many different ways – not just by speaking. Poetry, painting, sculpture, comedy, song all allow people to give expression to their experiences.”

Other highlights of the festival include: 

  • Voices of War at Edinburgh Castle, an evening of poetry and reflection   exploring the pioneering work of World War I psychiatrist Captain WHR Rivers, Thursday 9th Oct, 7.30 – 9pm
  • Lothians on Film is an exciting selection of short films made in and around the Lothians. The selection includes documentary, fiction, animation and film art and will be shown, for free, at various locations across Edinburgh and the Lothians from Thursday 2nd October to Friday 10th October.
  • Resilience: Legislative Theatre is radical, participatory theatre giving power back to the people of Edinburgh. Audience members will be invited to propose, discuss and debate new ideas for legislation. The event is free and takes place on Saturday 11 October at Out of the Blue, Edinburgh from 3 to 9pm.
  • The International Film Awards 2014 The annual film awards ceremony will honour the very best of the films submitted by filmmakers from all over the world. Expect to be moved and inspired by the stories shown in the excerpts. Thursday 16 October at the Filmhouse Cinema, Edinburgh
  • The Wellbeing Mela is a free, fun, family day to celebrate diversity and promote positive mental health and wellbeing amongst Edinburgh’s varied minority ethnic communities. Music, dance, complementary therapies, relaxation workshops and lots more will be happening on Sunday 19 October at Out of the Blue, Edinburgh

The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation in association with the following national partners: the University of Strathclyde Glasgow, See Me, VOX Scotland, NHS Lothian, NHS Health Scotland, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire Recovery Network, Healthier Scotland, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Bipolar Scotland.

A full programme of events taking place in October is available at