July is Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month, also known as BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month or Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s a great time to celebrate minority mental health awareness with film. We’re highlighting educational resources that explore mental health and wellness, with a special focus on films that center BIPOC subjects, stories and points of view. These resources cover important social emotional learning topics and can be great assets to health classes.

Three photo portraits over colorful backgrounds. of youth plaintiffs from Youth v Gov: Isaac Vergun, a young Black man; Miko Vergun, a young Woman of Color; and Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a young Indigenous man. Text says: "Black, Indigenous & People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month. JourneysInFilm.org."


Celebrate Mental Health and Wellness with BIPOC-Centered Films

The Cup

The Cup, a feature film about a young Tibetan Buddhist monk living as a refugee in India who develops a passion for the World Cup, includes a Visual Arts lesson on Mandala Art as Contemplative Practice. This is a great lesson for teaching practical mental health coping skills. Pair it with our handout on Mandalas from The Story of God Curriculum Guide.

The Dhamma Brothers

The Dhamma Brothers, about a meditation program in an Alabama prison, includes an experiential lesson, Introduction to Meditation, which pairs well with the mediation section in The Story of God. The Dhamma Brothers curriculum guide also features lessons on the mental and physical effects of meditation. Because of the racialized nature of the justice and carceral systems, many of the subjects in this film are men of color. This guide also includes a lesson that examines the roots of racialized sentencing in historical inequity and oppression.


Award-winning documentary Happy explores The Psychology of Happiness. Through cutting-edge science and remarkable human stories from Namibia, Brazil, Bhutan, Kolkata, Louisiana, and more, the film leads us to a deeper understanding of why and how we can pursue more fulfilling, healthier, and happier lives. The Happy Curriculum Guide is a great tool to bolster social emotional learning (SEL).

The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

The Music of Strangers follows more than 50 artists from around the world as they explore the ways art can both preserve traditions and shape cultural evolution. Lesson 4 about The Ongoing Syrian Conflict and Humanitarian Crisis is a great way to teach about using art to respond to crisis. It includes a handout on Art as Self-Reflection. This lesson and handout pair well with Defiant Requiem.

The Neighborhood Storyteller

The Neighborhood Storyteller, about Syrian girls’ education activist Asmaa Rashed, includes “Work, Life Skills, and Visions for the Future,” which explores the intersection of identity, purpose, and happiness. It also features a film-book pairing with Muzoon: A Syrian Refugee Speaks Out by Muzoon Almellehan with Wendy Pearlman.

Youth v Gov

The Discussion Guide for Youth v Gov, about the diverse group of young people suing the US government for the right to a safe climate, includes a great section for launching discussions about Climate Anxiety and coping strategies, as well as empowering sections on Climate Justice and Climate Activism.

Additional Mental Health and Wellness Resources

Big Sonia

Big Sonia, about Holocaust survivor and Holocaust educator Sonia Warshawski, feaures a powerful lesson on PTSD and Intergenerational Trauma.

Defiant Requiem

Defiant Requiem, about how prisoners at Therienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp used art and music as tools of survival and resistance, features a lesson on Art and Resilience.

Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down

Our Learning Guide for Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, about gunshot survivor turned gun violence activist Gabby Giffords, includes a section on the impact of gun violence on Mental Health which features prompts for personal reflection and for discussion, as well as extension activities.

Greener Pastures

Greener Pastures follows four midwestern farming families in an underdog story of perseverance and determination. The Greener Pastures Discussion Guide is a great springboard for discussing stress, mental health, and resilience.

Additional Resources

Learn more about mental wellness coping strategies with experiential lessons in our article for Religion Matters about Mindfulness, Meditation and Mandala Art.

When to Teach with These Materials

These films are great to teach with all year round. You may find them especially helpful for:

  • Mental Wellness Month in January,
  • World Teen Mental Wellness Day on March 2,
  • Mental Health Awareness Month in May,
  • Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in May,
  • PTSD Awareness Month in June,
  • National PTSD Awareness Day on June 27,
  • Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month in July,
  • Mental Illness Awareness Week in October,
  • World Mental Health Day on October 10.