The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is delighted to launch its 2022 Writing Competition, held in partnership with Bipolar Scotland. We are seeking entries which address mental health in all its diversity and explore the theme of 'Gather'.

The Writing Competition is one of the SMHAF’s most enduring successes, providing an opportunity for first-time writers to be published alongside established names. The awards ceremony is often where we discover what our festival is really about, as writers from across Scotland and further afield take inspiration from our theme in poignant, powerful, personal and often ingenious and surprising ways.

The theme for 2022 is 'Gather'. This can be interpreted in any way you choose – the limit is your imagination. For this year's competition, there are three categories:

FICTION: Short stories, between 500 and 2000 words.
POETRY: Poems, up to 40 lines.
CREATIVE NONFICTION: Creative writing with a factual basis, between 500 and 2000 words. Examples can include diary entries, autobiographical writing, letters, personal essays, and literary journalism.

Shortlisted writers will be invited to read from their work at the SMHAF Writing Awards in May 2022, and/or participate in an online event. Their works will be published in an illustrated book, made available to the writers, audience members, and across digital platforms.

The shortlisted writers and one winner in each category will be selected by a jury of writers and mental health professionals. In recent years, jurors have included Jenni Fagan, Kirstin Innes Graham Morgan, Jenny Lindsay, and Alan Bissett. Further details will be announced in the new year.


The closing date for entries is midnight on Sunday 6 March 2022. We cannot accept any entries received after this date.

You can enter the competition via the Zealous platform by clicking below:

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For further information and any queries about the submission process, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can read the shortlisted and winning entries in our previous ebooks from here