Taraji P. Henson is gearing up to launch a foundation to fight the mental health crisis. The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, named in memory of her late father, will open its doors on Sept. 22, in Los Angeles.
The star’s father suffered from mental health issues after serving in the Vietnam War. “I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are black,” Henson said, according to People magazine.
The “Empire” actress thrives on changing the culture of silence for African-Americans battling mental health issues. Collectively, a shift is happening, but more work needs to be done.
Uncle Joe: “Have you talked to your Aunt Karen, she’s back drinking again.”
Cousin James: “She’s just having one of her moments again, you know that’s what she does.”
Have you witnessed a dialogue like this one above? This is the “silent killer convo.” In the black community, we have to realize that mental health issues are no joke and should be taken seriously. For many years, African-Americans disguised mental health as being “crazy,” “weak” or even “unworthy.” What if the Aunt Karens of the world just needed someone to talk to?
According to Dr. Monnica T. Williams of Psychology Today, African Americans view the typical psychologist as an “older, white male, who would be insensitive to the social and economic realities of their lives.” That isn’t even the direst fact about our progress — African-Americans are “20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Health.
Some of the factors that aid in the acceleration of mental health issues include racial oppression, poverty, political marginalization, and poor health care. Though these factors may play a role, we need to be proactive in making sure mental health gets treated as seriously as any other disease.
Kudos to Taraji for moving the conversation forward.
Image of Taraji P. Henson via Instagram