The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF), led by the Mental Health Foundation, is one of the world’s largest social justice festivals. In 2019, the most recent in-person festival, SMHAF attracted attendances of over 25,000 at more than 300 events staged throughout Scotland, including film, performing arts, literature, music and visual arts.

Now in its 16th year, SMHAF calls on filmmakers, established or aspiring, to submit films addressing mental health, and the various ways this can be understood or reflected. In its programming, SMHAF is renowned for championing work by filmmakers with lived experience of mental ill health, films that challenge stigma and perceptions about mental health, and films that raise awareness about the mental health experiences of marginalised communities. Its screenings draw attention to specific mental health problems, but we are also keen to present innovative and diverse perspectives on mental health and wellbeing, and work that resonates with people with lived experience. Films of any length, genre and style are welcome.

Screenings at SMHAF 2022 are planned to take place in-person, with selected titles also available for online audiences. However, final plans will be developed in accordance with Covid-19 guidance. Most in-person screenings will take place at CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow from 12-15 May 2022, but we may also feature programming at cinemas and other venues across Scotland throughout the festival.

All films submitted to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival will be eligible to win a prize at the international film awards.

The winning films will be selected by a jury, comprised of people with backgrounds in film, in mental health, or both. All winning films will be screened during the festival and honoured at our annual ceremony.

Previous award winners include JUDY VERSUS CAPITALISM (Mike Hoolboom, 2020), THAT JOKE ISN’T FUNNY ANYMORE (Hannah Currie, 2019), EVELYN (Orlando Von Einsiedel, 2018), IRENE’S GHOST (Iain Cunningham, 2018), SUMMER, 1993 (Carla Simón, 2017), BECOMING CARY GRANT (Mark Kidel, 2017), and A FAMILY AFFAIR (Tom Fassaert, 2015). Work by first-time filmmakers, emerging directors, and community organisations are also regularly recognised at our awards ceremony.

Please see our website for full details of past award winners.


1. Only films completed after 1st January 2019 will be considered.

2. Films previously submitted to the festival will not be considered.

3. Non-English language films must have English language subtitles.

4. Films submitted must relate to mental health or wellbeing in a meaningful way, or be made by a filmmaker with lived experience of mental ill health. If this is not clear from the overview or director’s statement, it would be to your advantage to explain this in a brief covering letter to support your submission. Submissions from filmmakers with lived experience are particularly welcome.


1. All submitted work must be original, and the submitter must either have festival rights to the film or permission to submit it.

2. All films submitted must have full festival clearance, including written consent/contracts where appropriate for individuals identifiable within the film (paid or unpaid), full musical clearance and third party clearance. It is also the responsibility of the person submitting the film to ensure that any necessary agreements are in place and valid prior to submission. By submitting a film, the person doing so guarantees that all required permissions have been obtained.

3. There is a standard submission fee of £7 for short films (under 45 minutes) and £10 for feature films (over 45 minutes). This fee helps us to cover the cost of running the competition. The festival is led by the Mental Health Foundation, a registered charity in the UK ( Submission fees are non-refundable.

4. We are happy to waive the submission fee for filmmakers who would otherwise find it difficult to submit – no questions asked. Please get in touch at and include a brief synopsis of your film, including how it relates to mental health or wellbeing.

5. If your film is selected, a high-quality digital screening copy of the film will be requested. The specification may vary depending on the exhibition venue/space and will be confirmed upon selection. We cannot pay for screening copy costs or shipping to the festival, but we will cover return. We cannot accept or assume responsibility in the event of loss or damage of screening materials.

6. English language captions will be requested for films selected for the festival to make it more accessible, including for D/deaf and hard of hearing audiences. Please provide captions with submission copies where available.

7. If your film is selected, we may utilise clips, trailers, high resolution still images, and descriptive text, in order to publicise the festival and related events. Submission of an entry form is considered granting the festival permission to do so. Clips, images, and marketing copy will be requested, or, where available, downloaded from FilmFreeway.

8. Decisions made by the programming team and International Film Awards jury are final. We are unable to provide feedback on individual submissions.

Overall Rating
  • Michelle Jones

    I had the best time at SMHAF. The festival team were amazing and done everything they could to get me to the festival in person. I had a great time in Glasgow attending a variety of screenings and connecting with amazing filmmakers. The SMHAF team done a great job in curating the films for the festival. Everyone's films were special in how the tackled the subject of mental health. I am grateful for the platform SMHAF gave to my film and honoured that we won the Human Rights award this year.

    June 2022
  • April Kelley

    So grateful to be apart of this wonderful and important film festival. Thank you for having us!

    June 2022
  • A wonderful festival. The communication was great and super friendly, the awards ceremony was really touching and as a filmmaker I felt well taken care of. The programme was powerful too. Really glad I submitted and was able to attend!

    May 2022
  • Leonardo Petralia

    Very Happy to participate con the SMHAF 2022, My film A Bag Full of Purses was part of the Official selection films. Really warm experience!!!

    June 2022
  • Parachute Films

    We were thrilled to have DEAD SOULS' VACATION selected for the SMHAF 2021, which turned out to be one of the most rewarding festival experiences during the pandemic! Big thanks to the programmers!

    July 2021