The actress founded the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which works to destigmatize mental health in the Black community
Taraji P. Henson is opening up about being a mental health activist.
In an interview with ELLE for their 2023 Women in Hollywood December/January 2023 issue, Henson, who stars in the upcoming The Color Purple movie, said that being an actress led her to discover her passion for mental health.
“Acting put me on a platform, and I always thought that I was touching lives through acting, but this foundation is actually saving lives,” Henson, 53, told ELLE. “I’m grateful that acting led me to a larger life purpose.”
The actress explained to the outlet that when looking for a therapist to help her process her father's death she couldn't find anyone who looked like her. "I couldn’t find them—it was like looking for a unicorn,” she said. This led her to found the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which works to destigmatize mental health in the Black community.
Through the foundation – named after her father – she offers free therapy, a scholarship fund for Black therapists and “wellness pods” at places like historically Black colleges and universities.
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In April, Henson shared an update on her mental health journey in an appearance on Sherri. She explained on the show that she took a trip to Bali out of necessity.
"I've been doing this for 20-some odd years. Working, grinding, whatever you want to call it. And I come up for air, and I hit a brick wall," she expressed.
"If you let fear take over, it will let you believe in it. So I got past my fear, I went, [and] I did the whole trip dry. Eat, pray, love. Because going by myself made me stay present. I had to have conversations with these beautiful people I met, and we still stay in touch," she continued.
The actress previously told PEOPLE in June 2019 that she talks to her therapist twice a week. In person, if she’s in town, and if not, she chooses to Skype or Facetime.
“I can call her at any time I’m having a moment and she’s there,” Henson said. “I was blessed enough to find someone I really gel with. She gets me.”
She continued: “We don’t talk about mental health, we don’t deal with it. For generations, we’ve been told it’s a weakness, to pray our problems away – and that’s just not gonna cut it.”
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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