We have launched the full programme for the 10th annual Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, revealing a whole host of exciting film, theatre, music, comedy, spoken-word events, exhibitions and workshops taking place all over Scotland! The festival begins on World Mental Health Day, 10th October, until 31 October and the events can be browsed by region on our events page

To mark our tenth anniversary, this year’s festival theme is Time where we can reflect on how far we have come since the start of the festival, as well as offering audiences the opportunity to engage in events that explore how attitudes to mental health have changed over the years. The theme will shine a spotlight on the role of time in experiences of recovery, and to acknowledge the impact that time can have on our minds and bodies. 

Our ambitious and bold programme is packed with activity, and we urge you to look for what’s taking place near you. We’ll outline a number of highlights taking place across October:


Earlier in the year we announced our first ever theatre commission One Thinks of it all as a Dream on the life and work of Syd Barrett, written and directed by Alan Bissett and Sacha Kyle and co-produced with A Play, A Pie and a Pint. We are excited to announce an accompanying event Syd Barrett: Dream & Reality where a panel of special guests – including Syd’s nephew Ian Barrett – will dispel some of the myths surrounding his life and legacy. 

We are preparing for some extra-terrestrial guests with the family-friendly Experts in Short Trousers created by the festival’s associate artist Emma Jayne Park alongside Cultured Mongrel Dance Theatre. The interactive play is aimed at ages 4+ and features some aliens who have crash-landed on Earth. The production will be touring the country over the duration of the festival. New work Where the Crow Flies by Lisa Nicoll explores ideas around trust and identity, based on interviews with women in East Lothian, will also be touring a number of venues. 

SMHAFF will also be collaborating with National Theatre of Scotland where we will be taking over a portion of Home Away, an international community arts festival, for a day of discussions and events on mental health. Over the course of the day playwright Jo Clifford will lead a workshop on the impact of prejudice on transgender people, Pamela Carter will discuss new work featuring the work of maverick psychiatrist RD Laing, there will be discussions on how to create work about depression and compulsive hoarding, as well as a performance from members of the Adam World Choir, celebrating the diversity of trans and non-binary experiences. 


This year’s film programme features over 50 films, screening in cinemas and venues across the country, many of which will be accompanied by lively post-screening discussions of the issues involved. Programme highlights include: the European premiere of Touched With Fire, a drama about bipolar disorder starring Katie Holmes; the Scottish premiere of A Family Affair, the Scottish premiere of #MyEscape, a documentary shot largely by refugees as they fled Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria, and the UK premiere of Shoulder The Lion, an innovative, visually stunning and multi-award-winning documentary.

There will also be an exclusive special event featuring Rick ‘Redbeard’ Anthony and Duncan Marquiss of the Phantom Band performing a live score to the film Borderline, a 1930s silent film starring Paul Robeson and poet H.D. that was groundbreaking in its day for its depiction of race, sexuality and its avante garde representation of inner-psychological states. 

Other Highlights

We are delighted that comedian Felicity Ward will be bringing her hit Fringe show to Glasgow as part of smhaff on the sole Scottish date of her UK tour: 50% More Likely to Die has received rave reviews on its treatment of anxiety and IBS. Also in Glasgow: we will be taking over Kelvingrove Museum at Moving Minds in partnership with Vox (Voices of Experience) for a family-friendly event celebrating diversity and wellbeing through a combination of music, theatre and dance. 

Smhaff will be working in partnership with Dundee Literary Festival for events exploring mental health in literature, past and present. The Way that Madness Lies will see a panel of experts – including literary critic Stuart Kelly, journalist Joyce MacMillan, and psychotherapist Peter Kravitz – discuss depictions of mental illness within Shakespeare’s work. Additionally, YA authors Juno Dawson and Cat Clarke lead an event on young people and mental health at Mind Your Head

There are a number of exhibitions and events programmed in Edinburgh, including a performance from Admiral Fallow at Music Matters in association with Edinburgh Carers Council. We’re also excited to take over one of the city’s best-known landmarks in conjunction with She is Fierce magazine: join us as we transform Edinburgh Castle into a wonderland in celebration of female creativity. Additionally, our Out of Sight, Out of Mind exhibition will be showcasing exciting and ambitious artwork in venues across the city. 

To learn about these events and more, browse our programme online. Let us know what events you’re looking forward to and what the theme of Time means to you by using the hashtag #smhaff10.