August 24, 2017 Now is perfect time to launch Mental Health Fringe Awards The Scotsman / Andrew Eaton-lewis This year, then, seemed a good time for a mental health charity on a mission to challenge negative attitudes towards mental health to launch an award recognising, celebrating and encouraging this kind of groundbreaking work. And after seeing almost 50 shows – with some support and guidance from the Scotsman’s team of critics – we are delighted to announce our shortlist. The final contenders for the first ever Mental Health Fringe Award are: • Mental, Assembly Roxy • A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad), Pleasance • Hear Me Raw, Underbelly • Jack Rooke: Happy Hour, Underbelly • Give Me Your Love, Summerhall • Amy Conway’s Super Awesome World, Summerhall • Snowflake, Pleasance Who will the winner be? Honestly, we haven’t decided yet. In the meantime, it’s interesting to reflect on what these shows say about the state of this new Fringe genre. A conspicuous common theme is youth – the majority of our shortlisted shows are about young people struggling to find their place in the world and, as Snowflake in particular explores, being let down by an older generation that doesn’t seem to appreciate, or care about, the immense pressure they are being put under. Another theme is the stress of taking care of family members whose mental health challenges can be overwhelming – as in Mental, a candid, moving account of a son’s relationship with his bipolar mother, and Give Me Your Love, in which a former soldier’s PTSD confines him to the inside of a box for the entire show. As I write this, each of our judges seems to have a different favourite show, which will make a decision tricky. But it’s a privilege to see this work and contemplate the meaning of it all. And we’ll tell you our winner tomorrow morning. Andrew Eaton-Lewis is arts lead for the Mental Health Foundation.