We’re delighted to announce that our 2023 programme is now online – you can browse the programme and book tickets now

Taking place across Scotland from 4-22 October, and led by the Mental Health Foundation, this year’s festival explores the theme of ‘revolution’. In the midst of political and economic turbulence, we aim to confront the impact of economic barriers and social inequality on our mental health, and ask ‘how we can do things differently?’.  

Our multi-arts programme of 180 events – taking place from Thurso to Hawick – spans music, film, theatre, art, discussion, creative workshops and more. Events have been curated by the festival team and a wide range of local communities, artists and activists, creating a diverse programme that explores ‘revolution’ in insightful and imaginative ways. 

Come along to the festival this October and join the revolution! 

Festival highlights

There are many interesting events to discover – you can search the programme by date, location, event type and key word. Here are some of the highlights from our programme to whet your appetite. 

Performer Imogen Stirling
Imogen Stirling (credit: Andy Ross)

Manifesto – our ambitious opening event explores the questions: What does a mental health revolution look like? And how do we start one? Prominent artists and activists will deliver a series of creative provocations – including socio-political artist Heather Marshall, poet Imogen Stirling and musician Sonia Killmann, and art and science collective Traumascapes. Glasgow, 4 Oct 

Rebirth & Revolution – the life and legacy of outsider artist Mary Barnes (1923-2001) will be celebrated through this exhibition and event series. A former patient of R.D. Laing’s, her art demonstrates the radical potential of creativity to support recovery from mental illness. Glasgow & Falkland, 5-21 Oct 

SMHAF Writing Awards – discover the best new writing on the theme of ‘revolution’ at this celebratory event hosted by Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery and with live music by Jill Lorean. Edinburgh, 22 Oct 

Still from Typist Artist Pirate King, showing Sandra (Kelly Macdonald) and Audrey Amiss (Monica Dolan) on a beach.
Typist Artist Pirate King

Typist Artist Pirate King – a special preview of this tragi-comic film portrait of artist and mental health survivor Audrey Amiss, starring Monica Dolan and Kelly Macdonald, will feature a Q&A with acclaimed director Carol Morley. Dundee, 10 Oct 

Stephen – don’t miss this inventive and moving new documentary exploring addiction, recovery and mental health. Features a Q&A with director Melanie Manchot and subject Stephen Giddings. Glasgow, 18 Oct 

Out of Sight Out of Mind – the 11th edition of this popular exhibition presents artworks – paintings, sculptures, installations and more – made by 180 people who have experience of mental health issues. Launching on World Mental Health Day. Edinburgh, 10-29 Oct 

Highlights from across Scotland

Most of the events in our programme are curated and developed by partner organisations and communities across Scotland. Here are just a few we have picked out to get you started.

Production image from Hysterical by koi collective
koi collective: Hysteria

Hysterical – this new play from all-female koi collective, specially commissioned for the festival by Live Borders, tells the stories of historical ‘mad women’ and asks: Are the structures that held them back still in place? Melrose, 7 Oct 

Not, Interrupted – this fascinating film season looking at the portrayal of mental health, stigma and treatments on the big screen includes Ingmar Bergman’s Persona and Sophia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. Hawick, 4-18 Oct 

Events being held across Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire to mark World Menopause Month include Talk Menopause: A Female Celebration (Uplawmoor, 18 Oct), a day of activities designed to provide women with the tools to manage mental health and physical wellbeing during menopause. 

A woman with white hair and glasses gives a reading in an outdoor setting.
Up the Middle Road: Crichton Stories of Resilience and Recovery

Up the Middle Road: Crichton Stories of Resilience and Recovery – a screening and discussion exploring how creative retellings of experiences can heal and dispel the stigma around poor mental health. Dumfries, 20 Oct 

Velcro Poetry: All Ages Writing Workshop – join poet Simon Lamb for this entertaining taster session and explore your emotions through the blank universe of a piece of paper. Irvine, 20 Oct 

Make a stART – an exhibition of artworks by local young people aged 12-17, who meet weekly to explore creative activities, build confidence and support their mental wellbeing. Stirling, 4-22 Oct

The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival takes place from 4-22 October 2023. Join the revolution! Explore the programme and book tickets here.