posted on May 4th, 2023

The Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts Festival returns…

The countdown has begun for the Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts Festival! The programme was officially launched this week at an event at Belfast City Hall hosted by Lord Mayor Christine Black and featuring the Armagh Rhymers.

This year’s NIMHAF runs from 11th-21st May, with a packed programme of diverse events which address mental health issues both compassionately and intelligently.


The theme of this year’s Festival (which coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week) is “Myths”. Organisers are hoping to use NI’s rich shared heritage of Myth and Legend to spark inspirational and challenging conversations about mental health issues, fighting stigma as well as opening a space for discussion about the many myths surrounding those that live with mental health challenges.


Highlights include: ‘Daytrip (In Memory of Mary Butters)’ A collaborative audio-visual project with NI Digital Film Archive and the recipients of this year’s Artist Residency Paul Doran, Ben Harris, Brian Coney and E.G. Dunne in the Crescent Arts Centre. This coincides with Chief Armagh Rhymer, Dara Vallely, who will have his exhibition ‘Masks, Myths and Magic’ also at The Crescent


Alice McCullough’s ‘Earth to Alice’ will be taking place in the Seamus Heaney Homeplace Bellaghy


New Pagan’s Claire Miskimmin will exhibit her specially commissioned collage work ‘Revival’ at Larne Museum and Arts Centre


Turner Prize Winning Array Studios are hosting a workshop in the Ulster Museum with a special performance in the Atrium by Landless’ Mèabh Meir, who appears in Array’s ‘Druthaib’s Ball’. Members of Array will talk you through the meaning of the myths in their síbín.


Speaking at the launch Festival Director Dawn Richardson said:


“We’re really thrilled to be able to present this year’s NI Mental Health Arts Festival with the theme of Myths. We have such a rich shared culture of creativity, artistic practice and story telling, all of which can be used to challenge stigma and mental-health inequalities in our systems and society.

We hope the festival will be shine a light on the narratives of those with experience of mental-health issues through accessible, interactive, empowering events.

NI Mental Health Arts Festival is created by, and for, those who have faced mental-health challenges and who often go unseen and unheard by both the arts and health education models. We invite everyone to come and find out for themselves and be challenged as well as entertained!”


This year’s festival events will be both online and in person throughout NI, providing choice to our diverse audience.



NI Mental Health Arts Festival advocates this year are David Holmes, Bronagh Gallagher, Joe Lindsay and the Armagh Rhymers.


Check out for further details

All Images by Holly Foskett.