Films can be powerful tools for alleviating stress and also for teaching about stress awareness, resilience, emotional regulation and coping strategies! We recommend the following lessons in our film guides to help you teach about stress and mental wellness with film for grades 3-12. Mental Health Awareness Month  in May and Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week May 5 – 12 are great times to teach with these films and they’re also great all year round.

Detail from a still photo from the film Children of Heaven, showing a little Iranian girl in a pink head scarf blowing a soap bubble. Text says: "Children's Mental Health Awareness Week. Ten Free Teaching Tools. Teach With Film." The Journeys in Film logo is at the bottom.

For Grades 3-12

Award-winning documentary Happy explores The Psychology of Happiness. The Happy Curriculum Guide is a great tool to bolster social emotional learning (SEL).

For Grades 4-12

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. Pair it with our handout on Mandalas from The Story of God Curriculum Guide.

For Grades 5-12

The Neighborhood Storyteller, about girls’ education activist Asmaa Rashed, includes “Work, Life Skills, and Visions for the Future,” a section that explores the intersection of identity, purpose, and happiness.

For Grades 6-12

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.

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.

For Grades 7-12 + Higher Education

Big Sonia, bout Holocaust survivor and Holocaust educator Sonia Warshawski, has a lesson on PTSD and Intergenerational Trauma.

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 Brother curriculum guide also features lessons on the mental and physical effects of meditation.

For Grades 8-12 + Higher Education

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.

The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble follows more than 50 artists 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 Discussion Guide for Youth v Gov, about the 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.