Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Let’s talk about male mental health: Mariem Omari on ‘One Mississippi’ and the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival

One Mississippi
One Mississippi

THE Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is running in venues across the country until the 29th October.

Showing as part of the festival, ‘One Mississippi’ is a powerful verbatim play centred around male mental health.

The play was written by playwright Mariem Omari, who also wrote the critically acclaimed ‘If I Had a Girl’.

Mariem was inspired to explore the roots of male mental health issues by her own experiences.

She said: “The theme is quite personal for me. I grew up with a father with mental health challenges and when I was in my twenties I was in a relationship with a man with depression.”

Mariem said she found the statistics surrounding mental health shocking, particularly the suicides rates among men.

‘They needed no convincing’

“There are all these services available yet the numbers just keep going up.”

To begin the project, Mariem needed some men to be willing to share their (often deeply personal) stories.

She explained: “I started off with men I knew personally or who I’d worked with.

“They needed no convincing – they knew it might help someone.

“After talking to me, many of them then encouraged their friends to come forward, and we stared to build momentum.”

Mariem also explained that some of men who shared their stories had never spoken of their mental health struggles before. Some had only confided in one family member that they had attempted suicide.

One Mississippi


With productions like One Mississippi and Living with the Lights On among the shows on offer, the SMHAF has seen a real focus on male mental health this year.

Mariem has been looking into why it can be more difficult for men to open up about their problems.

“Men are socialised so differently”, she said.

Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival launches

“There is actually a higher rate of depression among women, yet the suicide rate among men is so much higher.

“Men are told ‘Don’t Cry!’ Man Up! They’re always being reminded not to appear ‘weak’.

“There’s such a disregard when it comes to male vulnerability. which can be profoundly damaging.

“It means society isn’t able  to deal with male sensitivity.”


One Mississippi

Mariem gives the example:

“If you saw a woman sobbing in the street you’d think ‘What a shame, I wonder what happened, maybe she just broke up with her boyfriend.”

“If you saw a man sobbing alone in the street, your reaction would be completely different.”

Mariem said these attitudes towards male vulnerability aren’t helped by the portrayal of men in the Scottish media.

She said: “You get that image of the stoic, quiet man who goes down the pub to solve his problems.”

Mariem said the cliched views repressed Scottish men are burned into the ‘collective Scottish psyche’ and are ‘just as damaging’ as what women experience in terms of the intense scrutiny of physical appearance.

Mariem also referenced a study which focuses on the relationship between childhood trauma and mental health later in life.

The research shows that those who have experienced four or more traumatic events (such as a bereavement or witnessing domestic abuse) are far more likely to later develop mental health issues or have suicidal tendencies.

Despite this, Mariem says events like the festival and the great work of some organisations make her hopeful for the future.

“Scotland is progressive in terms of the services we have available

We have some really great resources like the Scottish Recovery Network.”

‘Engaging, digital, current and important’: National Theatre Scotland’s Adam

Mariem’s next project will also have the theme of mental health running through it, this time in relation to religion and faith.

“It’s a fascinating area, faith and mental health”, she said. “I’m interested in the impact of religion on communities and how they can using religion to explain away issues and deny treatment.”

Mariem is passionate about basing her writing in the issues facing Scottish communities.

“My mum’s from Aberdeen, my father’s Lebanese and I’m really embracing my background.”

Mariem is part of Bijli, the newly formed company in residence at National Theatre Scotland.

The group are all about celebrating the diversity of Scotland.

“I don’t think Scotland has realised that over the years it has become multicultural.

“We see things like hate crimes, the orange marches, sectarianism, anti-Muslim and it’s all so archaic.

“We all need to grow up and change together.”

One Mississippi

In keeping with this effort to represent the variety of cultures in Scotland, the four characters in One Mississippi come from a range of different faiths and locations.

There’s a former addict from Glasgow, an Irish man, an Indian Sikh and a Pakistani Muslim. They are all from ‘fairly impoverished’ and challenging backgrounds.

Although One Mississippi explores troubling subject matter, Mariem said the men are full of humour.

“The play is funny and harrowing – like life.”

One Mississippi was shown at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and the Tron Theatre in Glasgow.

Due to huge interest, the show will go on to tour in 2018


If you are in need of support, help or advice, have a look at the Scottish Association of Mental Health website, or contact Samaritans on 116 123 

‘Awareness has certainly improved remarkably but stigma? No’: Mark Lockyer on mental health and his solo show ‘Living with the Lights On’