Today is World Mental Health Day, and the theme this year is psychological first aid – exploring the support that we offer people who experience trauma, crises and distress. To mark the day, we’ve pulled together a selection of dramas, documentaries and shorts from our film programme examining some very diverse experiences of mental healing following trauma. For more information about the impact of traumatic events on your mental health, take a look at the Mental Health Foundation’s guide.

You can also see a list of our top 10 events happening today, on World Mental Health Day, here.


Edinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh, Mon 10th Oct

A passionate and touching film that follows the journey of six hospice patients who, encouraged by one music-loving nurse, choose to sing through tender, vulnerable and funny moments of their lives. Filmed over three years at Strathcarron Hospice in Scotland, this is an intimate story exploring our changing relationship with death.

Seven Songs for a Long Life trailer from SMHAFF on Vimeo.

WILD: drama

AK Bell Library Theatre, Perth, Tue 11 Oct
The Birks Cinema, Aberfeldy, Sun 30 Oct

Driven to the edge by the loss of her beloved mother, the dissolution of her marriage and a headlong dive into self-destructive behaviour, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon, in an Oscar-nominated performance) makes a decision to halt her downward spiral and put her life back together again by hiking the famous Pacific Crest Trail.

#MYESCAPE: documentary

CCA, Glasgow, Wed 12 Oct

In recent years, thousands of refugees have left their countries, families and old lives behind in search of safety, human rights and freedom. This heart-rending documentary, having its Scottish Premiere at SMHAFF, uses footage shot by refugees from Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria, intercut with unflinching interviews that connect the outer journeys they went on with the ones that took place within. The screening is preceded by short film crISIS, a searing drama about a man who is burdened by grief and post-traumatic stress after losing his wife to a suicide bomb in Baghdad. #MYESCAPE editor Janine Dauterich will attend the screening and take part in a Q&A discussion.

#MYESCAPE trailer from SMHAFF on Vimeo.

Shoulder The Lion: documentary

CCA, Glasgow Wed 12th Oct
Filmhouse, Edinburgh Mon 24th Oct

A blind photographer questions the power of images in our visually saturated culture, a hearing-impaired musician is forced to give up his dream of the stage, and a brain-damaged boxer and painter searches for her new place in life. We’re delighted to be screening the UK premiere of this stunning and innovative film about losing everything and reinventing your future. Followed by a Q&A with the directors.

SHOULDER THE LION trailer from SMHAFF on Vimeo.

LOVE AND MERCY: music biopic

Paisley Arts Centre, Paisley, Thu 13 Oct

The story of Brian Wilson, the visionary leader of the Beach Boys. After experiencing a debilitating panic attack, Wilson quits touring and retires to the studio to work on Pet Sounds, the album that will become the band’s masterpiece. 20 years later, he is a broken, confused man, under the supervision of tyrannical therapist Dr Eugene Landy. John Cusack and Paul Dano turn in excellent performances as the older and younger Wilson. This screening will open with short films from WCS Paisley Music students, and is part of our Music and Mental Health Day in Paisley.

I WISH I WAS THAT BIRD: documentary

CCA, Glasgow, Sun 16th Oct

I Wish I Was That Bird is a candid and intimate portrait of outsider artist James Condos, having its European Premiere at SMHAFF. Filmed over a period of three years, the documentary follows James as he reveals his childhood trauma, meets other outsider artists, tries to sell his work and seeks to find his place in the community. Preceded by Lima, a gorgeous animated film about a son’s struggle to keep the memory of his father alive, and TRANSition, a brave and honest documentary about a young transgender man. Followed by a Q&A with I Wish I Was That Bird director Jeffrey Krolick and the film’s subject, James Condos.

I Wish I Was That Bird Trailer from Jeff Krolick on Vimeo.

GOOD GRIEF: short films

Edinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh, 29 October

Through animation, documentary and drama, we experience the effect a loved one’s death has on those left behind, and follow the steps they take towards overcoming grief and embracing a different future.

crISIS trailer from SMHAFF on Vimeo.

Me A Belgian, My Mother A Ghanian: Documentary

The Pearce Institute, Glasgow Wed 2nd Nov

At the age of 14, Adams travels to Belgium to live with his father. Three years after he leaves, his mother suffers a major stroke. Adams returns to Ghana six years later in search of his mother to seek answers about what has contributed to her present state of health. A deeply personal autobiographical piece following Adams’ emotional, psychological and spiritual journey as he tries to bring his mother to Belgium. Presented with Africa in Motion.


Find out more about our film programme here