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The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF), a nonprofit organization founded by award-winning actress Taraji P. Henson, has launched a public awareness campaign to address the mental health impact the education system places on Black students.
The campaign focuses on students aged between 12 and 22.
“What is taught in the classroom can be very different from what is learned, and that disparity has detrimental effects on the growth and mindset of Black students,” said Henson.
“With ‘The Unspoken Curriculum’ we aim to create space to talk about the Black student experience, break the stigma that comes with talking about these real issues, and improve access to solutions. This is an opportunity for all of us to rethink the lessons Black students are learning in our education system.”
The six-week campaign, titled “The Unspoken Curriculum,” launched during Mental Health Awareness Month and was developed in partnership with BLHF’s agency partner Edelman.
It is designed to combat mental distress caused by implicit bias by helping Black youth, parents, teachers, and administrators recognize the signs of trauma and distress.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Black students account for 16% of enrolled students, but a more significant percentage, 27%, are referred to law enforcement and 31% of student arrests.
Forty-eight percent of Black students also receive one or more suspensions throughout their academic career.
The program also strives to encourage Black students to feel confident and empowered to talk about their personal experiences in the classroom, protect their mental health, and seek support when they need it
“Whether they realize it or not, Black youth are impacted by implicit bias and systemic racism daily. From the depictions they are exposed to on television and social media to the experiences they have throughout the course of their matriculation, these encounters have a detrimental impact on their overall mental health,” said Spirit, PhD, and Clinical Director of the group practice T2S Enterprises, LLC.
“‘The Unspoken Curriculum’ is a bold step in sparking discussions among Black students, families and the broader community to dispel the stigma and empower youth and young adults to openly share how they are feeling.”