The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Talking headspace

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The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Emma Newlands takes a look at the upcoming programme of events highlighting mental health issues in Scotland

‘Anyone can suffer from mental health issues, regardless of your walk of life,’ says Idlewild’s Rod Jones, curator of a music evening during the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

‘It’s something I really wanted to get involved in. It’s about raising awareness and saying that it’s OK – everybody goes through it.’

Now in its second year, the 2008 bill showcases over 100 events around Scotland, packing in film screenings, comedy, visual art and Bollywood dance. Literary events include appearances by poet Liz Lochead and writers Alan Bisset and Denise Mina.

Notable for attracting hard to reach audiences, the festival hopes to tackle any stigma surrounding mental illness by being both thought-provoking and entertaining.

There will be gigs over two days under the Music Like A Vitamin banner, and Rod has put together a top notch bill for his Vitamin A night (9 Oct) at Glasgow’s ABC, when The Twilight Sad, Norman Blake and Sons and Daughters will perform.

Rod explains: ‘It was an opportunity to get a lot of my favourite bands to play. It’s great they are giving up their time for free – it shows the collaborative nature of the Scottish music scene.’ He laughs as he adds, it’s a ‘unique chance to see one of the most under-rehearsed covers bands ever making idiots of themselves’.

Jones has personal motivation for taking part, and is candid about his experience of mental health difficulties.‘When I first realised I had depression I was quite embarrassed, but there’s no need to be. Attitudes are getting better and now people are more willing to talk about it.’

Also taking part is former Deldagos frontwoman Emma Pollock, who suffered from postnatal depression after the birth of her son Ben. Along with Sushil K Dade, she will curate the second Music Like A Vitamin night (Vitamin B, 10 Oct) with performances from Kenny Anderson, Duglas T Stewart, The Phantom Band and Kim Edgar.

Emma says: ‘It’s an opportunity to see a unique line-up that will never be repeated. This is an issue that should really be embraced. Help should be freely available and getting support from the people around you is of vital importance.’

The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival runs 1-19 October. For more info see www.mhfestival.com.

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