Radio Clyde’s Gina McKie invited us to feel good on Friday with the launch of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival in Renfrewshire. This afternoon of theatre, music, poetry and song kick started the programme and gave us a sneak peek at what’s to come.

First up to perform at The Wynd Auditorium was Jenny Lindsay, whose intense performance poetry captivated everyone in the room. After experiencing mental ill-health and getting some much needed space to recover, Jenny penned a poem about what she went through, detailing her days on a scale of 1-10. ‘Six is fine, six is fine’ she tells us, though the deeper context is that it’s really not.

Next up was Arts Co-ordinator Sarah Grant, who spoke about the upcoming Paisley Poetry Trail, which continues until Saturday 31st October. Sarah has been immersed in organising the Renfrewshire events and, after a busy week, said how much she was looking forward to attending the events and seeing everything come together.

Theatrial performance Cirque Du Passion by Changing Stages took us through the connotations of passion in mental health. The struggles caused by anxiety pushing passion to the back of your head was beautifully demonstrated in the group’s performance. The actors spoke of passion and its ‘bully brother’ mania, the taker to passion’s giver.

With passion at the heart of this year’s festival, Gina took this opportunity to speak to the audience about her own: confidence building and helping others deal with anxiety attacks, fears and phobias. She is currently halfway through recording her forthcoming audiobook on confidence and esteem, which she hopes will help others realise that ‘the most important thing you can invest in is yourself’.

Andrew Eaton-Lewis, Arts Lead from the Mental Health Foundation, spoke of this year’s theme, explaining that passion is not only central to the festival’s ethos, but is what ultimately drives artists. 

Static, a short film by Louise Baird, led us in to the disarray of the depressed and anxious mind, before finishing with hope, that maybe it’s all ‘not that bad’. In an energetic performance, Claire Craig also performed the Charleston, complete with 1920s dress. She will be running a dance workshop, Passionate About Dance, on Monday 26th October as part of this year’s festival.

George Walker, Ruth Adamson and Julie Hardie of Paisley Writers Group opened up their hearts and minds with prose and poetry readings. Ruth’s passion and pride at what she can bake beamed across the room and Julie’s poem captured perfectly the feelings of many fighting their way through mental ill health: ‘I just don’t deal well with roundabouts and swings’.

Jeanette Allan, Renfrewshire Festival Co-ordinator, spoke fervently about the region's commitment to arts and recovery. She also touched on Read It, Pass It On, which takes place in cafes throughout Renfrewshire this October. Participants can go to any of the designated cafes to pick up a copy of Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive and upon returning, write their name inside and pass it on.

Young songbirds Rachelle and Brittany Davies touched the audience with ‘Shout Out’, a dedication to their friend who took her own life in 2014. Their self-composed song is available on iTunes and has received Twitter support from musical legend Rod Stewart. The duo are raising funds for Young Minds, a child mental health charity. You can show your support for the girls on Twitter at @Rach_Britt.

In exploring this year’s festival theme, RAMH held their Passionate About Photography competition asking entrants to show what they are passionate about. Stephen McLellan, chief executive of RAMH presented awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. The top entry was by John Joe Gallagher for his picture taken in Warsaw, capturing his enthusiasm for people photography.

Finally, Buddy Beat treated the audience to some hypnotic drum beats, performing an African piece. The talent and hard work of the group and their well-rehearsed music was a fitting end to a day about passion, mental health and community.


Written by Louise Marie Smith

Image by Stephen Rygielski


Feel Good Friday launched the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival in Renfrewshire. For full listings in Renfrewshire, featuring many of the artists mentioned above, please visit our events page.