Encouraging positive attitudes to mental illness

Couldn't Care Less which can be seen at the Lochgelly Centre on Saturda, October 26.
Couldn't Care Less which can be seen at the Lochgelly Centre on Saturda, October 26.
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A packed programme of entertainment which challenges the myths associated with mental illness, is taking place throughout Fife this month as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

The festival got underway on Thursday with ‘Reality Bites’ an exciting and thought-provoking launch event featuring dynamic speakers and a drama premiere at Rothes Halls, in Glenrothes.

Funded by Fife Council’s adult protection committee and the cultural partnerships team, the Fife part of the festival celebrates getting creative and connecting with others to improve everyone’s mental health and well-being.

Comedy, drama, author events, music, visual art, film and dance feature in a programme that focuses on the ‘reality’ of people living in the Fife area.

Co-ordinator of Fife’s festival events, Shona McEwan, explained: “Mental health is just as important as physical health. We should all take care of our own mental health and that of others, and challenge stigma and discrimination.

“Many of our events are free so you can try something new. We hope the Fife festival will help people gain knowledge and information, let people find our more about support services available, and most of all, we hope people will come along and have fun!”

Events include the drama ‘Sundowning’ by Suit and Pace in Kirkcaldy’s Old Kirk on Thursday (October 3).

Beth Hamilton-Cardus, of Suit and Pace, said: “We produce community comedy aiming to always be amusing whilst also tackling challenging issues, in this instance bereavement”.

‘Subsist’ is set when the world ended two years ago and is now consumed by a plague of the walking dead. Now four strangers struggle to survive, but has that effort cost their own humanity?

The one hour performance, which is followed by a post-show discussion, is being staged at Falkland Centre for Stewardship on Thursday, October 8, Cloud in Dunfermline on Friday, October 11, and The Steeple, Newburgh, on Saturday, October 12.

Words also play an important part in the festival and there are a number of events which use poetry, book readings and talks to discuss mental health issues.

Read aloud workshops by ‘the two Sylvias’, Sylvia Watson and Sylivia Bayne, provide a shared reading experience that includes stories and poems followed by informal discussion.

Workshops take place at Weston Day Hospital, Cupar, on October 9; Hillview Day Hospital, Dunfermline on October 16; and Dunnikier Day Hospital, Kirkcaldy, on October 23. All sessions are free.

Fife Libraries are also featuring ‘feel-good’ book displays throughout this month and will have free bookmarks available promoting the festival and signposting people to help and advice.

Music is a huge part of the festival and St Andrews’ Holy Trinity Church will provide a stunning backdrop for the Scottish premiere of ‘Hagar in the Wilderness’ on Friday (October 4).

This new chamber opera by Sally Beamish and Clara Glynn will be performed as part of the St Andrews Voices Festival currently being staged in the town.

Dealing with themes of desperation, jealousy and reality, this opera is a retelling of the Biblical/Koranic tale of Hagar, a servant in Abraham’s house, and the mother of his illegitimate child. This event will include a pre-performance discussion with the composer.

From opera to rock, the festival has got it all - and on Friday, October 25 the Rothes Halls in Glenrothes will host an eclectic evening featuring Fife bands ‘The Wild Bunch’, ‘Hot Cars’, ‘Bob n’ Gerry’,’Matthew Roll’ and ‘Country Folk’.

The festival also comprises a number of visual art displays, films and dance, as well as events giving specific advice on help and advice on mental illness.

Brochures for the festival are available in theatres, libraries and GP surgeries or download one at: fifedirect.org.uk/

You can keep up to date with festival info by following it on Twitter @FifeSMHAFF and on Facebook ‘Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (Fife)’.