Taraji P. Henson Takes Action To Address Mental Health In The Black Community

African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience mental health issues.

We know and love Cookie Lyons for being outspoken about anything and everything on Empire, but Taraji P. Henson's new foundation was created to shed light on an issue not spoken about enough in the Black community: mental health.

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The Oscar-nominated star has launched the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in honor of her late father, who faced his own struggles after returning from the Vietnam War. Through the foundation, scholarships will be given to African American students who are majoring in mental health and mental health services — such as therapists, social workers, and counselors.

"I named the organization after my father because of his complete and unconditional love for me; his unabashed, unashamed ability to tell the truth, even if it hurt; and his strength to push through his own battles with mental health issues," the Hidden Figures star told People.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that according to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. They note that the disorders that occur more often include major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), suicide, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

These likely to be a result of certain factors that occur more often in the Black community, such as homelessness and exposure to violence. On top of that, they are also less likely to report these struggles because of a lack of information and misunderstanding; faith, spirituality, and community; reluctance and inability to access to services; and provider bias and inequality of care.

"BLHF is breaking the silence by speaking out and encouraging others to share their challenges with mental illness and get the help they need," Tracie Jenkins, the foundation's executive director, said. "African Americans have regarded such communication as a sign of weakness and our vision is to change that perception."

Cover image via Tinseltown / Shutterstock

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