In the midst of turbulent political and economic times, our choice of theme reflects a desire to confront the impact of economic barriers and social inequality on our mental health.

The festival will be an exercise in ‘art as activism’, with a programme designed as a collective statement and manifesto for social change.

Programme Announcements

We are excited to announce some of this year’s programme highlights. Keep an eye out for more details and opportunities in the coming weeks.

To open this year’s festival we will host Manifesto, a one-day, agenda-setting arts and mental health event in Glasgow on Wednesday 4th October. It will feature specially commissioned creative provocations, plus short film screenings, workshops and discussions, finishing with a celebratory live music event. 

Our Writing Competition will open for entries in June, and we will be offering a series of workshops over the summer to encourage and support new entrants to submit their work. The Writing Awards ceremony will be presented at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, in partnership with the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

In Revolution, our new artist commission, we will invite four artists to create a new piece of work on this year’s festival theme. We will be looking for works in any artform that challenge established ways of thinking about mental health. Look out for a call for proposals soon. 

Get Involved in SMHAF 2023

We are calling on communities, organisations and artists from across Scotland to get involved by supporting and developing events in your local area. These can include exhibitions, creative workshops, performances, live music, film screenings, discussion events, and much more – anything that uses the arts or creativity to engage people in mental health.

To find out how you can get involved or to request an event submission form, please contact Rob Dickie, Arts and Festival Officer at the Mental Health Foundation, at

Volunteer Opportunity

Our Talking Heads volunteer project, supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, is now open for applications, offering opportunities for people with experience of mental health issues to develop creative responses to arts and mental health activity in Scotland.

These can include written pieces, interviews, audio and video content, photography, illustrations and more. Click here to find out more about the project and how to apply.

The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2023 is led by the Mental Health Foundation and is supported by our national partners: Creative Scotland, Thrive Edinburgh, Edinburgh Health & Social Care Partnership, Baring Foundation, See Me, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, and Scottish Recovery Network.

This year it is also supported by donations from trusts and foundations including the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and W.M. Mann Foundation.