The Festival takes place annually in venues across Scotland throughout October, aiming to support the arts and challenge preconceived ideas about mental health. By engaging artists, connecting with communities and forming collaborations, the Festival celebrates the artistic achievements of people with experience of mental health issues, exploring the relationship between creativity and the mind, and promotes positive mental health and well-being.
Highland Festival has become an established, mainstream cultural event running since 2009 and based on the belief that bringing people together is the most powerful means by which to combat stigma.
Chair of The Highland Council’s Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee, Councillor Drew Millar, also endorsed the aims of the Festival. He said: “The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival is an established, mainstream cultural event in Highland built upon dedicated volunteers, strong partnerships and a commitment from the Council. The Festival is a natural extension of the fantastic work being done throughout the year by arts organisations, charities, NHS workers, artists and activists to support those with mental ill health. Members of our committee have heard directly from people affected by mental health issues about the impact of related prejudice on their lives. They have also told us about the importance and value they place on opportunities to take part in creative and arts groups, and how these activities can be used to challenge the stigma associated with mental ill health, to promote well-being and to raise awareness. The organisers of this year’s festival have brought us an excellent range of events across the Highlands, and I would encourage everyone to attend.”
The Highland Festival team consist of representatives from organisations involved in providing mental health services, support and health promotion in the Highlands, as well as individuals with personal experience of mental health issues interested in the arts. This year is the biggest collaboration yet between Arts In Merkinch, Befrienders Highland, Birchwood Highland, Brora Learning Centre, Creativity In Care, Eden Court, High Life Highland, HUG (action for mental health), Loch Ness Mindfulness, Moxie Media, NHS Highland, Play Pieces, Ragtag, Support In Mind Scotland, The Bike Shed, The Clay Studio, The Highland Council and individual artists such as Karen Sutherland whose beautiful designs frame the information boards, and John Anderson, whose artwork increased when he was diagnosed with dementia.
Combatting the extensive geography and the extremes of rural and urban areas, the Festival Team have stayed true to their commitment of putting on arts events that are accessible and relevant to audiences across the Highlands. This year’s events will take place in Inverness, Dingwall, Alness, Brora, Thurso, Wick, Drumnadrochit, Fort William and Sleat on Isle of Skye.
A festival highlight includes ‘The Film and Words Evening’ in Eden Court on 1st of October which will launch the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival in Highland. This event will showcase local writers and film makers with some moving, humorous, quirky and always original films and readings by people from Inverness, Fort William, Skye, Caithness, Oban, Sutherland and Ross-shire.
Also the Highland’s Mental Health Arts Exhibition will open on October 1st at Eden Court, The full exhibition can be seen from October 1st to October 8th, and wall displays will remain until October 19th. Local artworks, textiles, paintings, sculptures and photographs will be displayed including also audio recorded by the artists to hear about the projects.
Other exciting Festival events will include:
Films in Eden Court: ‘Mars Project’, ‘Alive Inside’ and ‘Ana Ana’ followed by discussions about the films; a comedy show by Juliette Burton ‘When I Grow Up’ and discussion with the artists; and a lunch time theatre ‘Cat Plays Piano’ performed by Play Pieces.
Mindfulness taster session based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn to provide an insight into a secular mindfulness based stress reduction program.
Random Act of Kindness Day on 10 October promoting the wellbeing benefits of performing kindness acts.
Variety of workshops including ‘Write Mind, Write Place’ delivered by Lapidus Scotland; ‘Inner Peace in a Box’, ‘Origami Peace Birds’ and ‘The Secret Power of Cats’ by Creativity in Care; ‘Clay Classes’ and ‘Blazin Needles’ classes delivered by The Clay Studio; Project Open Day drop in session in the Brora Learning Centre; and ‘Let Me Stay’ performance in Craigmonie Centre in Drumnodrochit and Seall - Sabhal Mor Ostaig in Isle of Skye.
For more details about the festival, including information on dates and times, location and bookings please visit: