Award-winning actress Taraji P. Henson appeared before a congressional hearing on June 7 to share her concerns about mental health, particularly as it affects African American youth. Henson discussed her own mental health battles against depression and anxiety and became visibly emotional while doing so.
“I’m here using my celebrity, using my voice, to put a face to this, because I also suffer from depression and anxiety,” she shared. “If you’re a human living in today’s world, I don’t know how you’re not suffering in any way.”
Henson, who established the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, spoke openly about how “we in the African American community – we don’t deal with mental health issues.” Her appearance followed the launch of the Congressional Black Caucus’ task force on mental health issues facing black teenagers. The Caucus has held a series of hearings since launching the task force in April about mental health stigma and suicides among black youth.
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Taraji P. Henson on Mental Health on Micro and Macro Levels
Henson talked about how the use of social media, the normalization of gun violence, and a lack of mental health resources in schools negatively affects black teens’ mental health. She asked the Caucus to consider integrating mental health education into schools. “If we can teach children about sex education and physical education, why not mental?” she asked.
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation is named in honor of Henson’s father, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from PTSD and manic depression. “I feel like I really found my purpose,” she shared with People. “It’s hard, but he knew it and he was able to get the help that he needed.”
The Foundation will be hosting a conference in Washington about the stigma of mental illness in the African-American community starting this Friday. The proceeds from the event will go towards therapy for African-Americans who cannot afford it.
Thank you for speaking out, Taraji P. Henson! What do you think of her comments on mental health, depression, anxiety, and more? Sound off in the comments!
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.