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The Singapore Mental Health Film Festival Returns for its Second Year

19 November 2019

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The Singapore Mental Health Film Festival Returns for its Second Year

After its first successful launch earlier this year, the Singapore Mental Health Film Festival (SMHFF) will return in 2020. The festival, running from February 27 to March 1, aims to highlight a new range of mental health issues this year. Ticket sales start on January 2, 2020.

The most recent Singapore Mental Health Study done in 2016 showed an increase in lifetime prevalence of mental illness amongst surveyants at 13.9% – an increase from the results of the 2010 study.

Additionally, major depressive disorder, alcohol abuse and OCD emerged as the top three mental disorders in Singapore in the study.

In its 2020 run, the SMHFF will aim to address issues such as suicide, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorder and dementia through the medium of film, as well as panel discussions with medical experts and individuals in recovery.

Running from February 27 to March 1, 2020 at The National Gallery, the festival will feature seven different Asian and Western films, highlighting each different mental health issues. During in-depth panel sessions, the festival will also bring together mental health professionals across various specializations from the Institute of Mental Health, The Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT), National Addictions Management Service (NAMS), and Singapore Association for Mental Health.

In addition, SMHFF 2020 has launched the SMHFF Short Film Youth Competition. This programme seeks to introduce a culture of self-care amongst youth through active participation, where they challenge the stigma of mental health through storytelling, film production and exposure to mental health issues.

The festival is currently raising funds to support the festival operations and management, advertising and marketing, and film screening licenses. Find out more about the fundraiser here.

The 2019 festival, which was its debut, had more than 1,600 attendees; involved more than 100 volunteers; was partnered by 23 youth or mental health organisations and featured more than 30 experts, caregivers, and persons in recovery.

“We hope to expand the conversation on mental health and dementia further, and the roles every Singaporean can play to work towards a more inclusive city,” said Cheryl Tan, Festival Director of SMHFF and Founder of The Breathe Movement, the organisation behind the festival.


Youth Outreach

One vital group of individuals the festival hopes to reach is youths. As part of the festival, SMHFF is also working with young film makers, inviting them to work with film industry experts and mental health/dementia agencies to create films on five areas of mental health: youth mental health, suicide & depression, caregivers, dementia and creative expressions. The winning short film will be screened on the Opening Night of the Singapore Mental Health Film Festival 2020.

“We created the workshops to enable our youth to gain deeper insight into Singapore’s mental health/dementia landscape, and hopefully through their films, we can see their personal visions of how we can challenge the stigma of mental health in Singapore ,” said Tan.

Additionally, workshops featuring different modalities of mental health care such as poetry writing, yoga, sound meditation and body work will also run during the festival, with the aim of helping individuals to raise their emotional and mental resiliency.

Ahead of the festival, the SMHFF continues to run its social media campaign on Instagram and Facebook inviting individuals to share their personal stories anonymously of their struggles with mental health, and what they wish others would know about them. The Instagram page has since received close to 200 personal stories from individuals across the ages of 16-33, and has gained more than 2700 followers.

Read the personal stories here


The SMHFF is supported by Binjai Tree and partnered with the Community Health Assessment Team, Shan You Counselling Centre, Caregivers Alliance, Alzheimer’s Disease Association, YouthCorps Singapore, Singapore Association for Mental Health, National Youth Council, Singapore Association for Mental Health, Embassy of Sweden, High Commission of Canada, Embassy of France, amongst others. The official venue partner is the National Gallery of Singapore.

For more information about the festival, visit their website. Don’t forget to follow the festival’s Instagram and Facebook page,

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