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Inside Outsider Art Exhibition in Association with in2gr8mentalhealth CIC

An exhibition of artwork by regulated or accredited mental health professionals and trainees with lived experience of

mental health difficulties.

This exhibition will be included in the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and is funded by Thrive Arts. This year’s theme is ‘Revolution’.

Join us in our aims to create revolutionary change in society and systems.

Have a listen to our video where we tell you all about the Inside Outsider art exhibition.

It is often assumed that experiencing mental health difficulties is something that is alien to providers of mental health services; this exhibition aims to highlight how this is a false idea. Outsider Art refers to artwork made by people who live on the margins of society and is commonly associated with artwork created by those who experience mental health challenges. This exhibition will offer a collective sharing of artworks by those who work and train ‘inside’ the mental health professions, who also experience mental health difficulties and have often felt marginalised as ‘outsiders’ within the professions. We hope that this event will encourage a change of attitude and practice internationally, synonymous with the ethos of in2gr8mentalhealth CIC. in2gr8mentalhealth CIC is a centre for valuing, supporting, and destigmatising lived experience of mental health difficulties in providers of mental health services.

Some media sources have encouraged false beliefs about those experiencing mental health difficulties which have contributed towards stigmatised attitudes and behaviours. There have been many anti-stigma campaigns attempting to combat this however, these have made little difference in achieving any long-term change and can unintentionally increase stigma, prejudice and discrimination. This could be because these campaigns have focussed on mental health difficulties at an individual level without consideration of the social world around us. This seems to locate the ‘problem’ in the person experiencing this distress. In reality, no one is immune to experiencing mental health difficulties including providers of mental health services. Current research indicates that psychologists and doctors are in fact more likely than the general public to experience mental health challenges.

Stigma exists in the mental health systems themselves that we work and train in and can become internalised in the individual. This is sometimes referred to as self-stigma meaning that people begin to agree with the harmful messages they hear about themselves in society. Therefore, both internalised stigma and societal stigma may pull people into the vortex of thinking that mental health difficulties make a person ‘incompetent’. Therefore sharing can evoke fears that fitness to practice will be challenged. This has left many practitioners silenced about their lived experiences and both this and attitudinal influences from others can affect our well-being and evoke feelings of shame. If a trauma-informed approach with an attitude of care and compassion was established, people could be supported for any health issues in a way where consideration is given to thinking about capacity rather than competency.

This Art Exhibition aims to increase awareness and acceptance of the reality that no person is immune to experiencing psychological distress. Some people train to become providers of mental health services because they have experienced help themselves, have deep compassion, and want to pay positive experiences forward. Some have had poor experiences of help and are passionate about having this experiential knowledge valued to help change systems for the better. The extent to which we value the lived experience of mental health difficulties in our providers is really the extent to which the mental health scene values lived experience of mental health difficulties at all. When anyone’s lived experience of mental health difficulties is truly valued it is reflected in the co-construction and improvement of services today.

Professionals are increasingly speaking publicly about their lived experience including the Founder and CEO of in2gr8mentalhealth CIC, Clinical Psychologist, Dr Natalie Kemp who has been fundamental in creating a platform for others who may wish to share their experience of this dual identity - seen as one single, rich human identity. The Inside-Outsider art exhibition recognises that people have options and choices around how they share their lived experience of mental health difficulties. We consider how emotionally safe this may or may not feel within today’s society due to the challenges that can arise from stigma, prejudice, and discrimination. For this reason, we wish to enable representation for those who are in a position where it may feel less safe to be open about their lived experience, so we will offer the option to submit artwork anonymously.

Since the publishing of the British Psychological Society’s supportive position statement on Clinical Psychologists with experience of mental health difficulties in which Dr Kemp was involved, there has been a growing and long overdue acceptance of the stigma that this has carried and moves to stamp this out.

Other disciplines have also shown an acceptance of the lived experience of practitioners within their profession. and the British Association of Art Therapists has a special interest group, specifically for dual-experience practitioners. We continue to take every opportunity to build on this further. We believe a collective sharing by those with dual experience in a creative form may have a powerful influence in creating change societally and systemically. Art making is not only beneficial for our health and well-being through expressing experiences which have been oppressed, but when viewed by others can encourage reflection of one’s beliefs and values as new insights can be experienced by the systems around us.

Artwork will not be limited to visual art forms, and we encourage other creative works such as poetry, photography, creative writing etc. We are also happy to consider any other forms of creativity that anyone wishes to submit.

Event details

The opening night will take place on Wednesday the 11th of October at Out of The Blue Drill Hall, 36 Dalmeny St, Edinburgh, EH6 8RG. Presentations by professionals with lived/living experience will take place from 6.30 pm - 7.45 pm. (Details of the speakers will be made available when confirmed). Presentations may be in person and live streamed via video link.

The exhibition will be a hybrid event, with artwork on display at the Out of the Blue, Drill Hall in Edinburgh, Scotland and simultaneously on an online gallery hosted by in2gr8mentalhealth CIC.

This is a free event open to the public, and tickets will be available from, we very much hope you would like to join us there.

The on-site exhibition will be open from Thursday 12th October - Thursday 19th October, 10 am - 4.30 pm (excluding Sun 15th October).

The event has been funded by the Thrive Arts programme. Edinburgh’s Health and Social Care partnership.

Submitting Art Work

We very much hope to represent your experience through art in either the physical or virtual space. We are asking those who wish to submit artwork to think about their lived experience as mental health professionals through the lens of ‘Revolution’. This may be a conceptual piece based on the themes but can also include artwork that demonstrates your use of artmaking for self-care.

We aim to open submissions in May 2023, please stay tuned for details.

For further information please email Arts Coordinator and Project Lead Don McJimpsey at

Or contact in2gr8mentalhealth via their contact page on their website or email them on


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