Movies and film have the power entertain, inform and inspire empower individuals to live their best lives. Therapists, social workers and mental health professionals have used the concept cinematherapy to create this transformation in the lives of many of their clients. Therefore, in honor of Minority Mental Health Month, here are five ways social workers, therapists and mental health advocates, can use movies and film to decrease the stigma of mental illness and promote mental health recovery among Black women.

Movies and films can be used to:

  1. Normalize clients’ experiences with mental illness. Support them in their mental health recovery.


  1. Help family members understand the impact mental health stigma and find ways to positively support their loved-ones.


  1. Assist supervisors in exploring treatment issues (particularly based on the DSM-5 Movies and film are also good tools to prepare for clinical licensure exams.


  1. Promote mental health awareness and education with a panel of experts to discuss issues such as stigma, and mental health recovery.


  1. Enhance classroom instruction by exploring black women’s mental health experiences and identifying cultural appropriate treatment options for this population.



The Secret She Kept, based on the book of the same name, by award winning author, ReShonda Tate Billingsley was produced to promote mental health awareness around one family’s struggle to hide the family’s history of mental illness. It also explores misconceptions of mental illness in Black families. The movie originally aired on TV One in July, 2016. It stars Kyla Pratt (One on One, Dr. Doolittle) in the lead role and Gavin Houston (The Have and Have Nots) as her husband.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Voice Awards Program website. This program recognizes television and film producers who use film and television to promote mental health recovery. For more information go to:

Dr. Lolita Boykin, LICSW, worked as the Director of Education for Mental Health America-LA, and also as an university professor where she coordinated field internship experiences to train undergraduate social work students.

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