The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival – one of Scotland’s most diverse cultural events – is under way.

Covering everything from music, film and visual art to theatre, dance and literature, the annual festival takes place at venues across Scotland until October 29.

Its main aim is to support the arts and challenge preconceived ideas about mental health.

The festival was launched in 2007 and has grown into one of the largest of its kind in the world, with 300 events attracting thousands of people.

Among this year’s events was a ‘yarn-bombing’ project in Paisley town centre, which saw various statues being covered with knitted garments to raise awareness of the cause.

Led by The Mental Health Foundation, the festival’s art activity has been expanded into a year-round programme, rebranded as Mental Health Arts.

The programme is supported by See Me – Scotland’s campaign to end mental health stigma – and funding from Creative Scotland.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been involved in the festival at some Q&A events, talking about mental health issues.

Every year, there is a theme for the festival – and this year’s theme is Reclaim.

On a similar note, this is also Hate Crime Awareness Week.

The Scottish Government defines hate crimes as those committed against a person or property that are motivated by malice or ill will towards an identifiable social group.

It is likely that you are a victim of a hate crime if you believe that someone has targeted you if they are prejudiced against an aspect of your identity.

In Scotland, the law recognises hate crime as those motivated by prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.

There is also an aspect of cyber crime involved in hate crimes sadly, and that can harder to protect from and identify those involved. At our next meeting on the 30th of this month we are holding an internet safety and cyber crime security training session in Eastwood Health Centre.

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