The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival has kicked off it’s 12th year with a tremendous line up of events.

The festival, which runs until the 27 May, is an annual, nationwide festival led by the Mental Health Foundation and programmed in partnership with communities and organisations all across Scotland.

Since it began in 2007 the festival has been shaped by the voices of people with lived experience of mental health issues.

To mark the Year of Young People – and in light of recent research suggesting that half of adult mental health problems begin in childhood – this year’s SMHAF has the theme of Beginnings, and a special focus on young people’s mental health. Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 aims to celebrate young people’s achievements, value their contributions and create new opportunities for them to shine on a local and global stage.

Highlights of SMHAF 2018 include the festival’s biggest theatre programme to date; the launch of I Am, a new book created in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland’s Adam World Choir and Freight Design; the return of the festival’s prestigious International Film Competition; and an ambitious, youth- focused programme supported by the Year of Young People 2018 Event Fund and Creative Scotland, which will support and nurture young people from across Scotland to contribute to future festivals as they grow older.

Youth-Focused Events

This year’s festival has a particular focus on events created for, and by, young people. With support from the Year of Young People 2018 Event Fund, managed by EventScotland, part of Visitscotland’s Events Directorate, SMHAF has recruited a brand new Youth Panel, which is informing a series of youth-focused events and will create a record of the festival through the eyes of a younger audience.

The festival is also working with Vox Liminis on KIN: Branching Out, a series of workshops with young people who have personal experience of the imprisonment of a parent or sibling. Facilitated by (and hosted within) Vox Liminis in partnership with Families Outside, this brings together a close-knit group of 14-26 year olds from across Scotland, committed to making art inspired by their lives, and opening up a conversation about family imprisonment in Scotland, culminating in a two-day mini festival within SMHAF.

Into Film will work with existing youth film clubs across Scotland to engage in two one-day events (North and Central Scotland) to watch, discuss and explore themes of mental health and ‘Beginnings’. This will be followed with practical activities to encourage the creation of youth made content that will be collated by a professional filmmaker to create one or two films that represent the themes. The final production (s) will be shared at showcase events within the respective schools as well as featuring in the SMHAF programme of screening events across the country.

SMHAF Associate Artist Emma Jayne Park will work with dancer James Fogerty in Hillhead Library for the entire month, collaborating with three Primary 5 groups from Notre Dame Primary School to create site specific dance performances inspired by books for children and young people.

Find Out More

To find out more about the festival and the events that are taking place near you, please visit

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