Black History Month: Resources, Recommendations and the Relationship Between Mental Health and Black History Month

**this blog has been updated in 2023

It’s Black History Month; an annual awareness month dedicated to Black history, identity and culture. Black History Month is an ideal time for young people to learn and understand more about Black history and culture. Additionally, BHM is also an ideal time to look closely at mental health. One of our key priorities at Kent-Teach is mental health and wellbeing. In this article, we unpick the relationship between mental health and Black History Month, explaining how schools and educational establishments can explore the themes of racism and the effect it can have on those who experience it, diversity and identity. 

What Is Black History Month?

Black History Month is celebrated every year in October. It is an annual celebration of Black history and culture, which was first officially celebrated in the United Kingdom in 1987. It is undeniable that people of African and Caribbean descents are a key part of our collective and national identity. But, the valuable contribution they have made is often unacknowledged or represented inaccurately. Over recent years the content of the history curriculum has been under scrutiny due to focus on the roles and achievements of white people whilst suppressing and ignoring Black history, culture and vital contributions. Black History Month is also crucial in educating people about racism and the impact it has. It is an ideal time to help people understand how we can challenge racial stereotypes and inappropriate commentary.

Black History Month has continually evolved and grown in the UK. When first established, Black History Month tended to focus on Black American history. But, increasingly, there has been more attention paid to Black British history and key Black figures. Influential Black British figures include the bestselling author Malorie Blackman, the prolific and talented Lewis Hamilton and Walter Tull, who is most famous for being one of England’s first Black football players. 

Black History is relevant to all industries and sectors, with different parts of the community engaging in celebrations during Black History Month, including care settings and museums. There are many avenues for organisations and individuals to focus on ranging from music and entertainment to colonialism. 

This Black History Month we have decided to focus on the importance of mental health, using this crucial awareness month to help educational establishments to explore diversity, identity and racism.

The fantastic Mentally Healthy Schools initiative is in partnership with the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. Mentally Healthy Schools is a completely free resource available to primary and secondary schools in the UK. It provides information, resources and advice to support schools in developing an improved understanding of young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Did you know 1 in 10 primary school children aged 5-10 has a mental health condition? Inarguably, the marginalisation experienced by some primary school pupils due to their race, culture and identity will exacerbate mental health and heavily impact a child’s sense of self and wellbeing. 

The Mentally Healthy Schools scheme has designed fantastic resources for schools to utilise during Black History Month. There are fully planned assemblies, lesson plans and resources, films and parent guides available. Moreover, there are separate sets of resources for primary and secondary schools. 

Resources for Black History Month

The fantastic Mind have a series of resources dedicated to Racism and Mental Health. They have broken down acronyms and terms into clear bitesize information. They include useful information such as where to seek help if you are struggling with your mental health and how to raise the subject of racism in conversations. 

The BBC have a range of resources to support teaching staff in exploring black history, culture and key themes in the classroom. There are short films, Black British stories and key historical figures to a name a few available resources. 

BBC Newsround published a useful video in 2016, which is still relevant in the classroom in 2023.. Use this video as a stimulus for discussions about racism and discuss what we should do if we witness or experience racism. 

Films are an engaging and successful tool used in the classroom. This Into Film resource celebrates Black filmmaking talent drawing attention to the range and diversity both behind and in-front-of the camera. 

Twinkl have designed a range of resources to be used in the classroom. There are a range of activities as well as a variety of key Black figures such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Barack Obama.

The Black Curriculum website contains a variety of fantastic resources and lesson inspiration, ranging from crosswords containing the names of prominent Black British women to law and policy information cards. 

Penguin launched their Lit in Colour Campaign in 2020 alongside The Runnymeade Trust. They aspired to innovatively provide support and resources to schools to allow them to bring more books by people of colour into the classroom. 

In addition to the resources listed above, there are many fantastic books about Black history and culture and key issues written specifically for children. 

1) I am Brown - Ashok Banker

2) My Hair - Hannah Lee

3) Can I Touch Your Hair - Irene Latham

4) Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History – Vashti Harrison

5) Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad – Ellen Levine

6) This Jazz Man - Karen Ehrhardt

7) Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids: 51 Inspiring People from Ancient Africa to Modern-Day U.S.A. – Arlisha Narwood

8) We All Belong: A Children’s Book About Diversity, Race and Empathy – Nathalie Goss and Alex Goss

9) I Need You to Know: The ABC's of Black Girl Magic – Lora McClain-Muhammed and Asia Lewis-Ross

10) Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History – Vashti Harrison

It can be very difficult for teachers to support a young person suffering with a mental health condition or an individual living with emotional distress. Therefore, we have collated some ways that educators can help teenagers suffering with poor mental health

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