We are excited to announce the full line-up for the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival’s first spring programme, which takes place from 7-27 May 2018. Led by the Mental Health Foundation, SMHAF is one of Scotland’s most striking and provocative cultural events, shaped by the voices of people with lived experience of mental health issues.

To celebrate our move to new dates, this year’s SMHAF has the theme Beginnings, placing a special focus on young people’s mental health. To mark Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 – and in light of recent research suggesting that half of adult mental health problems begin in childhood – we have ensured that there is a strong youth voice throughout this year’s programme, something which we believe will inspire young people across Scotland to contribute to future festivals as they grow older.

Highlights include the festival’s biggest theatre programme to date, featuring a four-night run of Mental, winner of the first ever Mental Health Fringe Award, presented in a four-night run in partnership with Mayfesto at the Tron. Though This Be Madness, a show about new parenthood and mental illness by award-winning theatre-maker Skye Loneragan, will premiere at SMHAF, with additional semi-improvised daytime performances for parents with babes-in-arms. And touring across Scotland are four acclaimed shows themed around mental health: Don’t Panic! It’s Challenge Anneka; Amy Conway’s Super Awesome World, Turntable, and Fisk.

Our film programme returns to the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow, launching with our prestigious International Film Awards on Thursday 10 May. In keeping with the festival theme, stories about young people’s formative experiences will feature strongly, such as But Honey, You Look Fine, in which a teenage filmmaker documents her best friend’s battle with bulimia; Being Keegan, a powerful drama about a man revisiting the scene of a childhood tragedy; and Horizon, in which a teenage girl struggles with anger and the loss of her mother. We look forward to welcoming many of our award-winning filmmakers to the festival in May – you can find the full list of winners here.

With support from the Year of Young People 2018 Event Fund, managed by EventScotland, we have also developed four exciting projects with young people. These include a brand-new Youth Panel, which will curate a series of multi-arts events in local secondary schools and create a record of the festival through the eyes of a younger audience, as well as work led by Into Film Scotland and SMHAF Associate Artist Emma Jayne Park. And at Saint Luke’s, Vox Liminis present CON(SCRIPTED), a new interactive performance piece developed by young people, and the album launch of Distant Voices: Not Known at this Address, which some of Scotland’s most celebrated songwriters with people who have first-hand experience of the criminal justice system.

As always, there is plenty more happening up and down the country, including the return of popular events – notably a Beginnings-themed Flint & Pitch and 5 Ways to Begin – and plenty of new ideas – including the collaborative Caring Conversations exhibition, led by artist Josie Vallely with support from See Me and the Mental Health Foundation.

Click here to explore the full programme and we look forward to seeing you at events across Scotland this May.