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Gail Porter Launches Scotland's First Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

October 04, 2007 4:45 PM

Gail Porter arrives in Glasgow this week to launch the first ever Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival which runs from 5th – 19th October, surrounding World Mental Health Day (10th October).

Led by a trio of partners: NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, the Mental Health Foundation and the ‘see me’ campaign, the mixed arts festival, with over 40 events and involving over 60 organisations, aims to promote positive attitudes towards mental ill health.

The festival will host a number of exciting and diverse events across venues in Glasgow and Lanarkshire including: an evaluation of the life and work of controversial Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing, on what would have been his 80th birthday, in the form of theatre, talks and a documentary screening; Psychologists and comedians joining forces to produce a film tackling the stigma of mental health launched with a comedy gig featuring Raymond Mearns, The Reverend Obidiah Steppenwolf III,  David Kay, and Gary Little; a strong showcase of film screenings including Anton Corbijn’s Control followed by talks with mental health and celebrity speakers plus 8 events exploring attitudes towards mental illness through various art forms in Chinese, African and South Asian communities. All events will be low cost or free to the public.

The Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival aims to tackle misperceptions head on by recognising the arts and film as a vehicle to inform and educate people about mental health problems. Lee Knifton Festival Director, explains “We aim to engage the media, the public, and the arts in a dialogue about mental health issues”.

Suzie Vestri, acting Campaign Director at ‘see me’ said:  “The arts influence people’s understanding and attitudes around mental health and mental health problems. The Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival is a really positive way to emotionally engage with issues of mental ill health and explore new ideas and insights. Many people who have experienced mental health problems have made fantastic creative contributions to our society in the arts, film and media and also in the fields of politics, sport and academia. We hope that the Festival will raise awareness of mental health issues to help combat the hurtful stigma experienced by many.”

Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “We’re really excited to be involved in the festival, which will use film and the arts to draw attention to mental health in a way that is positive and appealing. Film is one of the most powerful media for engaging both hearts and minds, with a long history of portraying mental ill-health. The variety of events planned as part of the festival will get people thinking and talking about mental illness - it’s not going to go away and it is vital to promote understanding on the subject.”

Professor Sir John Arbuthnott, Chairman, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has a strong commitment to promoting mental health and well-being, and to challenging stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems.  We are therefore delighted to be playing a part in putting together the first ever Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. It is encouraging to see so many partners – including many from well beyond the traditional health and social care sectors – getting involved to create a wonderful range of events.  And particularly pleasing to note the active involvement of service users in all aspects of the Festival.

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“The arts can play a major role in connecting people into health issues, in stimulating debate and in challenging our perceptions and beliefs. I would encourage everyone – public and professionals alike - to take part in these events and to support on-going work to improve mental health.”

For further information or an interview with a spokesperson please contact the ‘see me’ press office at IAS SMARTS.  Rebecca Charles or Katrina Muir on 0131 555 0425, [email protected]/ [email protected] or Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival press officer: Pamela Clarke on 07966 312013 / [email protected]

Log on to www.mhfestival.com for full event listings

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