Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF)

The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF) is an internationally respected annual programme to support the arts, explore how engagement in the arts can help prevent mental ill-health and challenge preconceived ideas about mental health.

The aims of the festival are to:

  • Explore how the arts can contribute to preventing mental health issues
  • Challenge perceptions of mental ill health
  • Make connections across communities
  • Develop audiences for the arts in Scotland and beyond
  • Encourage participation in the arts to promote good mental health
  • Provide a platform for people to create and share work about mental health

The Mental Health Foundation now leads the Green Ribbon Arts Festival (GRAF) in Wales and is a key partner in the Northern Irish Mental Health Arts Festival (NIMHAF) and our pioneering work continues to inspire new programmes elsewhere.

A woman performing with a microphone, in front of the MHF Scotland logo

In addition to the annual festival, the arts programme takes place throughout the year. Current projects include a new Mental Health Arts Network, supported by the Baring Foundation, Reclaiming Our Heritage oral history project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the annual Out of Sight, Out of Mind exhibition, led by CAPS Independent Advocacy.

SMHAF 2022

The 16th Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, led by the Mental Health Foundation, took place from 4 to 24 May 2022.

SMHAF 2022 explored the theme of ‘Gather’. This reflected the Mental Health Awareness Week theme of ‘Loneliness’, which coincided with the festival from 9 to 15 May 2022.

SMHAF 2022 was a hybrid festival, combining live events and online programming to enhance connections and strive toward being accessible for all. Artists, communities and organisations working in the arts and mental health across Scotland have contributed to developing the programme.

A big crowd attending SMHAF 2022, in front a neon sign of the SMHAF logo

Why did we choose the theme of ‘Gather’?

The theme of ‘Gather’ was chosen to recognise that bringing people together has always been vital to our work; we use the arts to connect communities, reduce social isolation and challenge mental health stigma.

After two years at a distance, we wanted to explore what it means for people to come together. How does sharing a space influence our mental health and our experience of art? And when we cannot or choose not to come together physically, how else can we gather in a way that is truly inclusive?

As always, SMHAF is an opportunity to gather stories, artworks, performances, thoughts and conversations scattered across Scotland, creating an important public dialogue on mental health.

A crowd looking towards a screen showing the SMHAF 2022 graphic for the theme 'gather'

Explore the SMHAF website

Find out more about SMHAF and the events that ran during the 2022 programme.
Learn more
Photo from Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, featuring the crowd and the logo in a neon sign