The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, led by the Mental Health Foundation, is one of the world’s largest social justice festivals.

With annual attendances of over 25,000 at more than 300 events staged throughout Scotland, including film, performing arts, literature, music and visual arts, the festival aims to support the arts and to challenge preconceived ideas about mental health.

Now in its 14th year, the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival showcases its official selections and award winners to diverse audiences, and calls on all filmmakers, established or aspiring, to submit films addressing mental health in various ways.

The film programme at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival will run from 14-17 May 2020. Screenings may also be scheduled outwith these dates, as the festival as a whole will take place over three weeks in May 2020.


All submitted films are eligible to win an award at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. Winning films will be honoured at our International Film Awards ceremony in May 2020.


We’re interested in films that explore mental health, and the various ways this term can be understood and reflected. The work can address specific mental health issues, but the festival is also keen to encourage innovative and diverse approaches. Films of any length, genre and style are eligible for submission.

The theme for SMHAF 2020 is Perspectives and we would particularly welcome submissions that address this in some way. This could include titles which explore mental health from the perspective of lived experience – whether through documentary or fiction – or through the eyes of marginalised communities who are disproportionally affected by mental health issues. It could also include unique perspectives on mental health and wellbeing, by presenting new ideas or experimenting with cinematic form.

Please visit our website for details of previous award winners and official selections.

Films completed after 1st January 2017 of any length and genre are eligible, provided that they have not been submitted to the festival before.

The submission fee helps us to cover the cost of running the competition and the festival. The festival is led by the Mental Health Foundation, a registered charity in the UK - If you cannot cover the cost of the submission fee, please contact us.


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

2. Please ensure that non-English language films have English language subtitles.

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

4. Only films completed after 1st January 2017 are eligible.

5. There is a submission fee of $8-12 USD - 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 ( If you cannot cover the cost of the entry fee, please contact us.

6. Submission fees are non-refundable.

7. The festival cannot accept or assume responsibility in the event of loss or damage of screening materials.


1. The International Film Awards jury will be comprised of people with backgrounds in film, in mental health, or both. The decisions of the jury are final. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide feedback on films which have not been selected.

2. The winning films selected by the jury will be screened during the festival alongside Official Selection films, and will be honoured at the International Film Awards ceremony.

3. For all films to be shown, the festival will be in contact regarding a high quality screening copy. We cannot pay for screening copy costs or shipping to the festival, but we will cover return.


1. 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.

2. We may utilise clips of the films to be screened in order to publicise the festival and related events. Submission of an entry form is considered granting the festival permission to do so.

3. High resolution still images will be requested for all winning films.

4. Films that are part of the Official Selection may be made accessible for viewing by other selected filmmakers and industry guests for networking purposes. Contact details included in the submission form may also be made accessible to selected guests. If you do not want your film or contact details to be shared in this way, please specify when submitting.

Overall Rating
  • Jose Carlos Teixeira

    SMHAF is truly an important, relevant and necessary festival. It was such an honor to be among the awardees, to meet the festival team and all the other talented filmmakers in Glasgow. Thank you!

    June 2019
  • Sophia Carr-Gomm

    Amazing communication in the run up t the festival, great venue and set-up. Was a pleasure screening my film here and doing a Q7A. Definitely would recommend!

    June 2019
  • Tania Cattebeke

    I think that the genre of the Festival is really relevant for our actual context.

    June 2019
  • Kirsty Strain

    This is a truly wonderful festival and it was such a privilege to have my film selected and screened amongst such other tremendous pieces of work. I was made so welcome and it was terrific to meet other filmmakers and artists and receive audience feedback. This is a really important festival, which opens up an honest dialogue regarding so many issues, surrounding mental health, raising awareness and shining a light in the most encouraging and heartfelt way. It really demonstrates the power of storytelling and connects people and is such a supportive festival. It celebrates different artforms and offers a real connection. Thank you!

    June 2019
  • Tim Mercier

    This festival is a rare thing - a seamlessly run event that creates caring, safe and welcoming environments in which filmmakers, mental health professionals and informed, curious or 'theme-invested' audiences can experience the thrilling and powerful film storytelling the festival programmes, then relax, discuss and share opinions and views with each other and the festival staff too who passionately believe in the power of film to communicate, heal and inspire, and also work tirelessly to make your festival experience a delightful one. Go!

    June 2019