First Fortnight is an Irish charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action. As each New Year dawns it hosts an annual festival over those first two weeks. This year it has expanded into other territories but that may just be a transient thing

Some of their aims are to

Make the First Fortnight of each year synonymous with mental health awareness, challenging prejudice and ending stigma.

Create a consistent space in the cultural calendar where citizens can be inspired through arts events and experiences to talk about mental health issues in a non-scripted manner.

Utilise unscripted conversation to change people’s perceptions about the ordinary experience of a mental health problem and the less ordinary experience of mental ill health.

Develop research findings from Festival Events to aid policy makers in the development of a greater understanding of the complex maintaining factors affecting mental health prejudice and discrimination.

Advocate for change to the art making system (Art funding streams, Art Education Programs, Cultural Venues, Arts institutions and discipline specific festivals and groups) to accommodate the development and production of mental health themed artwork.

Provide the highest standard of Creative Therapies to marginalised communities affected by mental ill health (even where co-morbid with other health or social problems)

There’s a whole raft of events over the next two weeks – find out more info here

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