Founded in 2005, the New York City Mental Health Film Festival is the oldest and largest mental health film festival in the United States.

It was originally planned as a community event for mental health consumers: We’d select the best films we could find about mental health, screen them, and relate them to our own experiences.

But soon it became clear that our little film festival could be something big – an event with broad appeal and impact. So, the festival grew. While it continued to be organized mainly by mental health recipients, we started spreading the word to a wider audience. We set out to build a community through film.

Above all, we wanted to show the lives, successes, hopes, struggles, and beautiful humanity of people with mental health concerns.

That's what we've done. Over the years, we’ve screened more than 60 films and welcomed more than 6,000 film lovers to our festival. Filmmakers and stars from around the world have shown their films, shared their insights, and participated in lively conversations with our audience. Members of the mental health community have continued to share their reactions and their life experiences, and we’ve all grown together.

Five years ago, we launched, as part of the MHFF, the Changing Minds Young Filmmaker Competition: a unique storytelling initiative for young people between the ages of 15-25 to share uplifting/unique/vital mental health stories through film. To date, we've received hundreds of films from talented young filmmakers around the world. You can find out more information about how to enter this competition at

Qualifying films should have been produced within the two years preceding the festival (to be held on 12/1/2021) and meet one or all of the following criteria:

- Provides an inspiring voice for social justice and human rights for people with mental health concerns
- Highlights positive contributions made by people with mental health concerns
- Fights stigma and defies stereotypes associated with mental health issues
- Shares real-life stories of people with mental health concerns

Submitted films may be of any length and genre – documentaries, features, and shorts.

More Details:
All entries must be in English and/or have English subtitles. We accept documentaries, features, and shorts. There is an entry fee (between $20 and $40, depending on when you submit).

If your film is selected to be screened at the 2020 NYC Mental Health Film Festival, you will be required to send the film in either Apple ProRes (our preference, if possible) or MP4 format within two weeks of notification.

Entries will be considered by festival organizers, including people with mental health concerns and advocates.

Overall Rating
  • Crystal Fortwangler

    Fantastic collection of films and wonderful audience engagement. We were honored to have our film, Masks in the Aftermath, selected to screen here. A dedicated team behind this festival - appreciated the regular and detailed communications prior to festival and while at the festival.

    November 2019
  • Autumn Doerr

    This film festival is run by passionate advocates for mental health services. They care deeply and it shows. Mental health is the cause of the moment, but this festival has put a spotlight on all aspects of the human soul surrounding mental health for years. It's a great festival.

    October 2019
  • The festival was very welcoming, with a diverse slate of films and filmmakers that touched me and the audience.

    October 2018
  • Centered Web Series

    What a great festival! Everyone was communicative and showed enthusiasm about showing all the filmmakers work because they believe in the content and stories that need to be told! We attended the festival and the filmmaker Q&A and everyone was so nice and the venue was BEAUTIFUL. Thanks, everyone!

    October 2018