Taraji P. Henson Testifies To Congress for Black Youth Suicide & Mental Health Forum

Academy Award nominee and the “Empire” star, Taraji P. Henson has been an inspirational voice in Hollywood, candidly speaking about her challenges as an African American woman. In April 2019, she was featured in one of the Variety Power of Women: New York covers where she spoke about her depression and anxiety, and introduced her non-profit organization, Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation that aims to break the stigma around mental health in the Black community.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkLE0BvXwGA

Yesterday on June 7, 2019, Taraji appeared on a Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce forum on black youth suicide and mental health, on Capitol Hill, where she opened up about her personal reasons for finding Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF). She began her powerful speech with a personal anecdote: “My father passed away in 06, and two years prior to that my son’s father was murdered here in Washington DC, uh that’s trauma, not only for my son but for myself.” She then talked about the difficulty of finding help in the black community and said, “When it was time to look for someone who I felt like could trust, and who my son could trust, it was like looking for a unicorn… We, in the African American community, we don’t deal with mental health issues. We don’t even talk about it. We’ve been taught to pray our problems away.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIMf0YfWqBQ

Many fans and twitter users have been praising her for speaking so honestly about the issue, and especially praising her organization for not only encouraging social and emotional learning but also highlighting that youth in the black community should also be encouraged to pursue a career in mental health. This solution is also the basis for Taraji’s NGO, that aims to combat mental health stigma “providing scholarships to African-American students who seek a career in the mental health field; offer mental health services and programs to young people in urban schools, and combat recidivism with the prison system.”

And until June 9, Taraji will be hosting and speaking a BLHF Conference and Benefit Dinner to further generate awareness of the mental health challenges in the Black community. Here’s to Taraji for using her voice to make the world a safer and better place!

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByB3YRtnjsq/

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