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Taraji P. Henson is being honored for her work as a mental health advocate, particularly in the Black community. Taraji, who has been open about her mental health struggles, created The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in honor of her father, who suffered from PTSD after serving in Vietnam.
Taraji received an award from the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, which funds “depression research. Taraji’s videotaped acceptance speech was exclusively debuted by People. She said that mental health is not talked about in the Black community and that she hopes to normalize how we talk about mental health. Below are a few excerpts:
“We’ve been taught that we should pray our problems away,” she says. “We’ve been taught to hold our problems close to the vest out of fear of being labeled weak or inadequate.”
Henson, who spoke about her personal journey with PTSD and depression when she was named one of PEOPLE’s Women Changing the World in 2019, is being honored for the campaign she started in April to help the Black community access free, virtual therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Henson, 50, launched the campaign through The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which she named in honor of her father, who suffered from mental health issues after his tour of duty in the Vietnam War.
Finding the right therapist can be challenging for those in the Black community, a professional who “we can trust with our deepest vulnerabilities” and who also understands “the stresses of simply being Black in America,” Henson says.
This includes “racism, mass incarceration, police brutality and inequality in health care and persistent exclusion from economic opportunities,” she says.
Her goal, she says, is to “normalize how we talk about mental health.”
I am so excited that the conversation around mental health, particularly in the Black community, continues to expand. It’s great to see high profile Back celebrities like Taraji, Yahya Abdul Mateen II and Gabrielle Union lending their voices to the cause. I am definitely looking forward to Taraji’s Facebook Watch program that will focus on mental health.
As someone who suffers from PTSD, chronic depression and anxiety, I was told to pray about it and for years that is what I did. News flash, I didn’t get any better. It wasn’t until I went to a therapist in college that I understood what was going on. I also have family members affected by PTSD, bi-polar and paranoia, so I have seen how not getting the proper help can affect a family for generations.
I am here for more high-profile Black celebrities opening up about their mental health journey and encouraging Black people to seek therapy. As Taraji mentions in her speech, I do hope to see more information that helps Black people understand how to pick out a good therapist. That too is very important. As for my girl Taraji, this honor is well deserved. I know she will continue to advocate for good mental health fitness, especially in a community …read more