The SMHAF Writing Awards took place on the evening of Wednesday 22 May at St George’s Tron Church in Glasgow, held in partnership with Bipolar Scotland. The ceremony was hosted by Ian Rankin, with music by Emma Pollock.

There were over 200 entries to this year’s competition, a significant increase on last year, and we would like to thank everyone who entered. The 12 winning entries have been collected in this eBook, as well as a set of printed materials, designed by artist Josie Vallely

We hope you enjoy reading this year’s collection. 



Winning Entries

1st Place: Outside In, by Shirley Gillan

2nd Place: Message in a Bottle, by Eilidh Clark

3rd Place: Twenty Five, Vanilla Milkshake, by Benny Allen


Fragments, by Shirley Gillan

In Sync, by Alyson Lawson

Still Hingin Oan by Brian Reid

Under Pressure, by Laura Barbour

Affirmations by William Sutton

Shoormal, by Aileen Paterson

The Keeper of the Keys, by Ewan Gault

I’m Doing My Best, by Cathie Devitt

Alarm, by Hannah Retallick


70 Stories

The Writing Awards also saw the launch of 70 Stories, an online project curated by the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival to mark the 70th anniversary of the Mental Health Foundation.

Throughout the Foundation’s anniversary year, we will be sharing mental health stories on the SMHAF website at

As well as celebrating the Foundation’s anniversary, the project will expand on this year’s festival theme, Connected, throughout the year, creating a compelling group portrait of mental health in 2019 by connecting stories from our Writing Awards, stories from regular and new SMHAF contributors, and more.

Read our news article or visit the 70 Stories page to find out more.