Taraji P. Henson said the stigma in the Black community surrounding getting mental health treatment needs to change, which she talked about on the “Today” show.
During her “Today” show interview, Henson talked about the foundation she started last year called the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, that works with schools to help support black kids who need mental health assistance.
The foundation was named after her father, who suffered from PTSD after he returned from the Vietnam War, which she said people teased him about. But Henson also said her father was the first person who made her feel comfortable about discussing mental health.
“They would call him ‘crazy,'” she recalled. “‘You know Boris, he crazy.’ And that’s the stigma around it. In the African American community, it’s taboo. For so long, it’s been looked upon as a weakness in our community.”
A bit later in the segment, Henson broke down as she talked about children committing suicide because of depression and having other mental health issues.
“I don’t ever want to get to a place where I can sit and be comfortable spewing facts and numbers about children as young as 5 years old taking their life,” she said with tears streaming down her face. “That should never be normal.”
And just as she did while speaking to Congress over the summer, Henson talked about the need for more black therapists. Because, according to a statistic that was read during the segment, only 4 percent of psychologists in the U.S. are Black.
Henson talked about the difficulties she faced when trying to find a therapist who could help her son Marcell.
“Trying to find a culturally competent therapist was like looking for a purple unicorn with a gold horn,” she stated.
So to help combat that, Henson’s foundation offers scholarships to Black students who are willing to pursue an education in mental health. She also talked about the unique experience for Black people in the U.S., which is why she calls for more therapists who can relate.
“To wake up and to know that at any moment you could be a target just because of the color of your skin, that is a heavy weight to carry,” Henson stated. “For children, that is a heavy weight to carry. For adults [too], because the adults are the mothers, the brothers, the uncles, the grandmothers, the sisters. We all carry it.”
“I want to touch as many children as possible,” she added. “These babies are suffering, and I just feel that is what God sent me here to do. I finally figured it out.”