The 2022 festival ran from 9-15 May 2022 (to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week) with a programme of varied, vivid arts events - online and IRL! in real life - that aim to create a platform for high-quality artwork that deals compassionately and intelligently with mental health.
Festival Director Dawn Richardson:
'Through our shared rich culture of the Arts, we can challenge stigma and mental-health inequalities in our systems and society.
We can support the recovery and wellbeing of those who have experienced mental-health issues through accessible, interactive, empowering arts projects.
NI Mental Health Arts Festival is created by, and for, those who have faced mental-health challenges and who are often missed by both the arts and health education models -providing a space where people can gain insight & share experiences.'
The theme of this year's festival is 'GATHER'. Writing in a specially-produced publication for the 2022 festival, Richardson writes:
"Did you know that a group of puffins is called a ‘Gathering’?
The cute little buggers decide to make Rathlin their home for a few months every year to breed, eat, squabble and clown about, before off they go back to sea without even a thought about putting the bins out or turning off the immersion.
How wonderful it is to have the freedom to be with others. To spend time with those you love, to argue with those whose opinions differ to yours, to avoid those that hurt you and to forgive those that you can tolerate.
The festival is dedicated to all those who do not have the ability to gather in safety – be that in protest, in war, in persecution or in health. It is a privilege to have the physical and mental health to get about in this world safely and without fear, the time and space to gather one’s thoughts – a privilege we seldom appreciated until it was gone.
The world keeps turning, we will gather way and the puffins will return.
Thank you to the festival team and our funders."