Taraji P. Henson wants to raise awareness about mental health stigma in the black community.
The Empire actress visited The View Tuesday to discuss her new foundation, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, an organization dedicated to “changing the perception of mental illness in the African-American community by encouraging those who suffer with this debilitating illness to get the help they need.”
The foundation was named after Henson’s late father, who dealt with mental health issues after he returned home from the Vietnam War.
But the 48-year-old actress’ father isn’t the only person who inspired her to launch the foundation. Henson mentioned to the co-hosts about her struggle to find a therapist for her now 24-year-old son, Marcel Johnson, after the murder of his father moved her to take action.
“This foundation was born out of necessity for myself … We don’t have anybody to talk to that looks like us, so there [are] trust issues,” the Howard University alum said about the need for more black therapists. “We have been misdiagnosed over and over again.”
Henson added: “It’s ‘are you culturally competent?’ ‘Do you understand my struggle?’”
The Around the Way Girl author also addressed mental health stigma in the black community, stating: “We have been told to pray it away. We have been told that it’s a sign of weakness. We have been demonized when we have bottled these emotions up for so long and we bring it out as we have been demonized.”
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation will help to address these problems by “providing scholarships to African-American students who seek a career in the mental health field,” and it will “offer mental health services and programs to young people in urban schools,” to name a few measures.
Watch Henson’s View segment below.