Films can be powerful tools for teaching about PTSD awareness and also about 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.

Close-up of Sonia Warshawski, a Holocaust survivor in her nineties. Text says: "PTSD Awareness Month. Teach with Film. Journeys in Film."

Teaching about Trauma and PTSD
Big Sonia

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

Teaching about Resilience
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.

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.

Teaching about Mental Health, Mental Wellness and Coping Skills
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. 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.

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.


Award-winning documentary Happy explores The Psychology of Happiness. 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 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 girls’ education activist Asmaa Rashed, includes “Work, Life Skills, and Visions for the Future,” which explores the intersection of identity, purpose, and happiness.

Youth v Gov

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.

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.