Find the key information below and download the full report to find out more about the programme highlights, plus details of our reach, engagement and impact across Scotland.
The 16th Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF) took place from 4-24 May 2022. It featured around 180 events taking place across Scotland and online, reaching estimated audiences of over 12,500 people.
The annual festival is led by the Mental Health Foundation, with support from partner organisations from across Scotland. It aims to support the arts, explore how engagement in the arts can help to prevent mental health problems, and challenge preconceived ideas about mental health.
The theme for SMHAF 2022 was Gather. This was chosen to recognise how vital bringing people together is to our work. We use the arts to connect communities, reduce social isolation, and challenge mental health stigma. After two years disrupted by Covid-19, we wanted to explore what it means for people to come together in person, how sharing a space can influence our mental health and our experience of art, and how we can gather – physically or virtually – in ways that are truly inclusive.
The programme brought together diverse voices and communities who explore mental health through the arts, emphasising that mental health is something that we all have and experience in different ways. It featured artworks, films, performances and discussions designed to raise awareness and start conversations about mental health, addressing wide-ranging intersectional issues including trauma, poverty, migration, austerity, neurodivergence, gender, parenthood, racism, and loneliness.
The festival showcased creative projects by artists with lived experience of mental health problems, alongside work highlighting important preventative initiatives in Scotland and around the world. Community-led programming provided opportunities for people in 16 regions across Scotland to engage in live and online events, participatory workshops and activities aimed at supporting wellbeing, developing understanding and building connections.
“How fundamental things like this are to the landscape. It takes things outside of the box when we look at creativity and mental health and that in itself pushes boundaries.”
“[SMHAF] feels like something I would have benefited from being involved with a lot sooner.
A festival where not only my kind of creative expression fits, but where I feel comfortable, welcome and appreciated in my contributions…In short, it has made me feel valued as an artist, and a person.”
“This was a very positive experience for me. I felt I was seen and heard, as these days, many older people are pushed into the shadows as irrelevant. Such a pity as they often have so much wisdom to share.”
“Feeling like we are part of a bigger collective trying to convey important messages about mental health to audiences across Scotland. That’s the ultimate goal.”
“As someone new to Scotland, it was a wonderful window into an existing community and artistic practice.”
Partners, Funders and Contributors
SMHAF 2022 was supported by national partners Creative Scotland,Thrive Edinburgh, Edinburgh Health & Social Care Partnership, Baring Foundation, See Me Scotland, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, media partner The List, and design partner Ilka.
We would like to thank all our partners for their ongoing support, as well as everyone else across Scotland who has made the festival possible through their hard work, dedication and creativity.
Download the Report
Download the full SMHAF 2022 report here.