At the start of a New Year it can be exciting to look ahead and plan activity for the coming months. We’ve never featured mental health festivals on the blog before, so decided to take a look and see what is on offer for 2023.
It turns out there is a wide range of festivals across the country – the country being the United Kingdom, including several parts of these isles. The overriding theme of mental health may group them together for the purposes of this post, but otherwise the festivals featured are refreshingly varied in their offer – with arts festivals, music and comedy festivals, festivals specifically aimed at children and young people, and festivals inspired by individuals with lived experience. One of the festivals is online, but the others are face to face.
Let’s take a look at some of the festivals in more detail.
Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival
When: 4 – 22 October 2023
The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF), organised by Mental Health Foundation Scotland, is an internationally respected annual programme to support the arts, explore how engagement in the arts can promote good mental health for all and challenge preconceived ideas about mental health.
This year’s theme – ‘Revolution’ – was chosen to reflect a desire – in the midst of turbulent political and economic times – to address the impact of economic barriers and social inequality on mental health.
It also reflects the ambitions of the Mental Health Foundation to identify the changes we need to make as a society to achieve good mental health for all, with a focus on those who are at greatest risk.
Now & Beyond
When: 8 February 2023
Now and Beyond is the UK’s only mental health & wellbeing festival for schools. It’s funded by the youth mental health charity Beyond.
Beyond enable access to high quality mental health support for young people both in and out of school. They increase awareness of services and support available, and give a voice and platform to young people with lived experience of the challenges of mental health.
The annual festival reaches over one million young people, along with parents and educators. Schools and colleges can register online to take part.
Ground-breaking lesson plans are available to download, along with free access to a national database of approved youth mental health and wellbeing experts. During the day celebrity guests will broadcast live alongside young people with lived experience.
When: 24 July 2023
Flackstock is a relatively new festival celebrating the life of Caroline Flack, the former TV and radio presenter who took her own life in 2020.
Funds raised are donated to the mental health charities – Mind, Samaritans, and Charlie Waller, along with the refugee charity Choose Love. The festival, which takes place at Englefield House, Pangbourne, Berkshire, features live music, dance and comedy.
Blink the Mental Health Campaign at the Wilderness Festival
When: 3 – 6 August 2023
Blink’s wellbeing tents provide rapid peer and professional support when people need it most at a number of festivals throughout the summer including the Wilderness Festival in Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire.
Wilderness Festival is regarded as one of the UK’s top weekend wellness festivals. Whilst in many ways it is similar to a traditional music festival (with headline music acts), festival goers also have the option to join in wellness activities including wild swimming, fireside cooking sessions and mindfulness classes.
There is always someone to talk to about mental health, as the trained volunteers from Blink are based near their tent at all times. They will happily chat about mental health, and can signpost people to helpful tools or organisations. There are also a number of mindfulness activities on offer at the Blink tent which festival goers are welcome to join in.
“From feedback received, we know that many of the visitors to the tents went on to seek out help for their mental ill health after returning home from the festival – proof that we removed their fear of stigma.”
When: 12 August 2023
R;pplefest, the family friendly festival, has been put together by Josh Hendy’s family and friends. It will be a ‘wonderful celebration of life’ and a ‘beautiful tribute’ to Josh, who died by suicide at the age of 21 on 25th November 2020.
Packed with mindfulness tents, significant mental health charity presence, live music and DJ sets, the event, at Gosport near Portsmouth, will shine a light on mental health and suicide prevention.
“Holding R;pplefest is a way of remembering Josh’s love of music and festivals while also raising money for R;pple Suicide Prevention Charity to allow them to continue to help those experiencing mental health crisis.”