Arts festival gets connected

The Eildon Tree
The Eildon Tree

A Borders programme of events is included in the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival in May and there are already ways you can begin to get involved.

This year’s theme is ‘being connected’ - national research highlighting how social isolation and loneliness impacts on health and wellbeing.

A special edition of The Eildon Tree magazine, which publishes new creative writing from the Borders and beyond, is dedicated to writing focused on the festival theme ‘Connected’.

Submissions of writing, poetry, short stories, reflections (max 3000 words), artwork or photography (high resolution only) on the theme of being connected and how that relates to mental health and wellbeing are welcomed by the deadline Friday, March 22. Send to:

Borders Youth Music Forum ‘Sound Cycle’ has requested contributions for a tribute song in memory of local singer and musician Scott Hutchison, front man of Frightened Rabbit, who died in May last year.

The new song is inspired by the Frightened Rabbit song ‘The Loneliness and the Scream’.

The song recognises the importance of connecting with the people around you and it is hoped to create a ‘wave of song’ on Friday, May 17, connecting people across the Borders by singing, with organised and pop-up performances posted on social media using #SongWave.

Groups, choirs, schools or individuals interested in taking part in the song wave should email:

In partnership with NHS Borders, Works+ is producing a short film to be shown at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. The 100 heads film will ask people from the Scottish Borders to give a one word response to the question ‘How do you feel today?’.

To find about taking part and out when Works+ will be filming in your area, visit the Facebook page ( or email

Allyson McCollam, associate director of public health, said: “There is increasing recognition of social isolation and loneliness as major public health issues and research has also shown the beneficial impact that the arts and creativity can have on mental health and wellbeing. The festival theme of being connected gives us an opportunity to put those things together.”

“I’d like to encourage people of all ages to get involved, either with the writing or singing project or by connecting with other people to do something creative in their own community. I am looking forward to seeing what this leads to”.

Lynne Irons, director at Live Borders said: “Talking about mental health is not something everyone is comfortable with. The most basic of opportunities such as singing, connecting with others, trying a new creative activity can make the world of difference for our wellbeing. Charity Live Borders offers a range of services to enable people to be creative and connect to others in their local community – simply visiting the local library or community centre can open up a world of opportunities.

“Working with health improvement and other partners, Live Borders supports the promotion of positive mental health and offers many opportunities for people of interests and ages to be healthier, happier and stronger. The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate the opportunities for people to be connected and be well in the Scottish Borders.”