Michael McEwan: Why you should make time for this year's mental health arts and film festival

CommonSpace columnist Michael McEwan says supporting a mental health festival showcasing creativity can help raise awareness

THERE are a number of different festivals and events in Scotland to highlight different issues, and one of them is the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival which is held across Scotland each October.

With attendances of over 25,000, last year's festival saw over 300 events staged across the country, including film, performing arts, literature, music and visual arts.

By engaging with artists, and connecting with a range of different community collaborations, the festival celebrates the artistic achievements of people with experience of mental issues, exploring the relationships between creativity and the mind, and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.

The festival celebrates the artistic achievements of people with experience of mental issues, exploring the relationships between creativity and the mind, and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.

The festival, led by The Mental Health Foundation, has since expanded its arts activity with a year round programme, supported by See Me, Scotland's programme to end mental health stigma, with funding from Creative Scotland.

The aims of the programme are:

- Challenge  

- Make connections 

- Develop audiences

- Encourage participation 

- Create 

The Mental Health Foundation is working for an end to the stigma of mental health and the inequalities that face people experiencing mental distress, living with learning disabilities or reduced mental capacity.

They also develop and run a research and delivery programme across the UK that has, for more than six decades, given us the evidence and expertise to know what works and how to intervene earlier.

The Mental Health Foundation is working for an end to the stigma of mental health and the inequalities that face people experiencing mental distress, living with learning disabilities or reduced mental capacity.

They use what they learn to help everyone by offering straightforward and clear information on every aspect of mental health and learning disability.

Their advice also helps people learn how to support mental health needs in their families, their communities or their work. They influence policy makers and advocate for change in services, using film evidence and the voice of people with direct experience of the issues.

I have been involved with the festival for the past three years, with appearances on some debating panel events at film showings.

Every year the festival has a different theme - this year's theme is Reclaim – and it takes place from the 10-29 October. If you have the time and the chance, please go to one or some of the events and support this festival to raise awareness in Scotland.

For more information on this festival please go to the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival site.

From next year the festival will be claming a new place in the calendar by moving to May.

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