The Mental Health Arts Network is a new project, supported by the Baring Foundation, to bring together people interested in mental health and the arts to share knowledge, experiences, and resources.

As part of this project we’re is hosting a series of free gatherings from this February, to explore challenging subjects in a supportive environment. Event information will be regularly updated on this page and tickets for all events can be booked via Eventbrite.

How should we talk about suicide?

This event has already taken place – you can listen to a recording of the discussion here

Art can be a powerful way of addressing the difficult subject of suicide, but how can it be done without sensationalising, stigmatising or triggering? The event discussion will feature: 

Mariem Omari, artistic director of Bijli Productions, whose show One Mississippi is a powerful piece of verbatim theatre based on interviews with men who have been driven to attempt suicide. One Mississippi is touring Scotland in May as part of SMHAF.

Rory O’Connor, Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Glasgow and author of the book When It Is Darkest, which explores why people take their own lives.

Bex Singleton, a film-maker whose short documentary I’ll Love You Till The End sensitively examines the experience of people bereaved when someone they love takes their own life.

Michael Duke, a playwright and theatre director who is currently developing a new project about the difficulty of understanding, through notes left behind, the worlds experienced by people who have died by suicide.

Hosted by Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts programme officer for the Mental Health Foundation.

How do we safeguard our mental health while making art about mental health?

Online, March 30th, 1-2pm

Book tickets here

The past few years have seen a huge increase in the number of artistic projects, from theatre and film to comedy, that explicitly address mental health. Often these projects involve the artists sharing their own traumatic experiences.
In our second Mental Health Arts Network Gathering, we’ll be discussing how we use the arts to explore mental health while safeguarding the mental health of artists and audiences.

On the panel we have:

Tamsin Griffiths and Paul Whittaker of Four in Four. Based in Cardiff, Tamsin and Paul are cross-disciplinary artists with a Mental Health diagnosis, who create participatory interactive projects that blur the boundaries of art-forms and challenge perceptions about mental health.

Juliette Burton is a comedian with a history of mental health conditions, and has talked openly about her own mental health experiences in her shows. She is an ambassador for the mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness, works closely with Mind, Beat and Time To Change and is at the vanguard of acts incorporating these issues into their work in innovative and entertaining ways for mainstream audiences.

Rebecca Day is a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, and founder of Film in Mind, which advocates for better mental health in the film industry and provides bespoke therapeutic services for the filmmaking community.

Vikki Doig recently moved on from a job as learning and engagement manager for Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, where she mentored young people, programmed mental health workshops and worked to support a culture of care across the youth theatre sector. She is currently a member of the Mental Health Arts Network working group.

Hosted by Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts programme officer for the Mental Health Foundation.

Gathering and loneliness

CCA, Glasgow, 4 May, 5pm (as part of SMHAF Gathering), (details tba soon)

What should we learn from two years of lockdown about how we gather together? Who is being excluded from public events and what impact is this having on all of us? And what can we do to be more inclusive? As part of SMHAF’s opening event at CCA, we are bringing together a group of artists whose work asks challenging questions about inclusion and exclusion.

More events still to be announced and updates coming soon! Watch this space or join the Mental Health Arts Network mailing list.

If you have been bereaved or affected by suicide, you can contact Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide. Email or call the helpline, open 9am to 9pm Monday to Sunday, on 0300 111 5065.

Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone service, available to anyone in Scotland, providing listening, advice and information about mental health. You can speak to a Breathing Space advisor on 0800 83 85 87.

Samaritans volunteers are there to listen. The phone line is free to call and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can speak to a trained Samaritans volunteer on 116 123.