Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival launches this year’s programme of events

Mental, created by Kim & Kane Power, is one of the shows running during the festival
Mental, created by Kim & Kane Power, is one of the shows running during the festival

THE programme of events for this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF) has been unveiled.

The 12th annual festival, shaped by the voices of people with lived experience of mental health issues, will have the theme of ‘Beginnings’.

Shows, screenings and events will take place across the whole country at a number of venues between May 7 and 27 as the festival switches from Autumn to Spring.

The festival coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week, with the theme also tying in to Scotland’s Year of Young People.

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Its biggest ever theatre programme includes a four-night run in Glasgow of Mental, the winner of the first ever Mental Health Fringe Award.

The powerful show details what it’s like to grow up with a mother who is bipolar.

And premiering at SMHAF is Though This Be Madness, a show about new parenthood and mental illness by award-winning theatre-maker Skye Loneragan, with additional, semi-improvised daytime performances for parents with babes-in-arms.

Though This Be Madness

Also included are tours of four acclaimed shows; Don’t!! It’s Chalenge Anneka, Amy Conway’s Super Awesome World, Turntable, and Fisk.

As well as theatrical shows, a new book will be released called I Am.

It shares stories from transgender and non-binary people across the world, created in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland.

It’ll be launched at Dundee Rep by contributors Adam Kashmiry and Jo Clifford, alongside performances of their two autobiographical shows Adam and Eve.

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The festival’s International Film Competition programme will also show the outstanding winning films from all over the world, setting up home in Glasgow’s CCA from May 10-13.

Hundreds of youth and art events across the country will also be taking place.

Gail Aldam, Festival Manager said: “This year’s festival is a new beginning for SMHAF, with the programme moving from October to May. It is also Scotland’s Year of Young People, so it felt like a perfect opportunity to explore the theme of ‘Beginnings’.

“As is always the case with our festival themes, artists, activists and organisations from across Scotland will all be responding to it in their own way, and we’re very excited to see what they come up with.

“We’re especially pleased to have such a strong focus throughout the programme on young people, who will be helping to shape this and future festival programmes as well as
sharing their own stories of lived experience.”


Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival has launched an exciting programme, and in the Year of Young People it is encouraging to see such a focus on opportunities for children and young people to take part.

“A key theme of the Year of Young People has been ensuring events are co-designed in partnership with young people, so it is particularly pleasing that a new youth panel has been recruited to help shape the programme.

“We want Scotland to be the best country in the world to grow up, and we need to ensure that mental health is something everybody talks about, and that young people feel they can do that without stigma.

“The arts and cultural events can be a great way for young people to explore and discuss mental health.”

The SMHAF 2018 programme is online now at, where you will find full, nationwide festival listings.