The Mental Health Foundation Fringe Award (aka the Mental Health Fringe Award) was established in 2017 in recognition of the most compelling new show about mental health at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It is presented by the Mental Health Foundation and supported by the Scotsman newspaper.

Tim Cornwell worked for the Scotsman for many years as the newspaper’s arts correspondent; before that he was a foreign correspondent (and later the Scotsman’s deputy foreign editor) covering major international stories such as the OJ Simpson trial and the Columbine massacre. More recently he was part of the judging panel for the Mental Health Foundation Fringe Award, a subject close to his heart as someone living with bipolar disorder. Tragically Tim died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism in June 2022; he had just finished editing A Private Spy, a collection of letters by his father, the author John Le Carre, a task for which he would receive much acclaim in the months after his death.

“Tim was a terrific and often underrated writer, on almost any subject you could think of; he was also very open about his mental health struggles. He was a valued member of the judging panel for the Mental Health Foundation Fringe Award, a task to which he brought both his personal insights and his many years of experience as an arts journalist. We are very grateful to the Cornwell Charitable Trust for offering to support this award; it feels like a fitting tribute, celebrating both Tim’s long relationship with the Edinburgh Fringe and his achievements in reducing the stigma around mental health.”

– Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts programme officer, Mental Health Foundation

Mental health has become an increasingly prominent theme at the Edinburgh Fringe over the past few years, with more and more artists making brave, honest and boundary-pushing work on the subject. The Mental Health Foundation set up its annual award in order to recognise, support and encourage new creative work that challenges stigma, asks difficult questions, and opens up conversations. The award’s previous winners are Mental by Kane Power (2017), Electrolyte by Wildcard (2018), All of Me by Caroline Horton (2019) and Manic Street Creature by Maimuna Memon (2022). The award was put on hold in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The award’s first three winners were all showcased at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival in May the following year, in partnership with the Tron Theatre. With the festival now moving to October, award-winners from 2023 onwards will be offered a flexible package of support tailored to the needs of each creative team and the future development of the show, which may include mentoring support and mental health training, support with funding applications and/or a contribution to production costs.

If you would like to be considered for the Mental Health Foundation Fringe Award please contact Andrew Eaton-Lewis on

The Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what we do, we aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive. The Foundation is a UK charity that relies on public donations and grant funding to deliver its work. The Foundation is proud of the vital role it plays in supporting mental health arts projects and hosting, developing and managing the annual Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.