The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival's annual writing competition takes place each year in partnership with Bipolar Scotland. 

Launched in 2014, the writing competition is one of the festival'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.

Writing Competition 2022: 'Gather'

Entries for the 2022 competition are open until midnight on Sunday 6th March. 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.

Find full details and submit your entries here

Read the eBooks

Each year, the winning entries are published in an illustrated book, also available as an eBook. You can read all the shortlisted and winning entries from each year of the competition by clicking on the links below.

Writing Awards 2021

The theme for SMHAF 2021 was Normality?. Read the shortlisted entries from our writing competition, collected in this ebook illustrated by Emily Wylde.

Writing Awards 2020

The theme for SMHAF 2020 was Perspectives. Read the shortlisted entries from our writing competition, collected in this ebook illustrated by Josie Valelly.

Writing Awards 2019

The theme for SMHAF 2019 was Connected. Read the shortlisted entries from our writing competition, collected in this eBook illustrated by Josie Vallely.

Writing Awards 2018

The theme for SMHAF 2018 was Beginnings. Read the shortlisted entries from our writing competition, collected in this eBook illustrated by ilka.

Writing Awards 2017

The theme for SMHAF 2017 was Reclaim. Read the shortlisted entries from our writing competition, collected in this eBook illustrated by Josie Vallely.

Writing Awards 2016

The theme for SMHAF 2016 was Time. Read the shortlisted entries from our writing competition, collected in this ebook illustrated by Josie Vallely.

Writing Awards 2015

The theme for SMHAF 2015 was Passion. Read the shortlisted entries from our writing competition, collected in this ebook illustrated by Josie Valelly.

Writing Awards 2014

The theme for SMHAF 2014 was Power. Read the shortlisted entries from our writing competition, collected in this ebook illustrated by Laura Donnelly.

Submission Details

The Writing Competition is currently CLOSED for submissions. It will open later in 2021. If you have any questions about the competition, you can get in touch at [email protected]