Two weeks after announcing that her Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation will host a two-day mental health summit next month, Taraji P. Henson is further trying to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness in the African-American community.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Empire actress will be testifying in front of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Taskforce at the “Mental Health in the Black Community” forum on Friday, June 7. The hearing will focus on Henson’s perspective in dealing with mental health and why talking about the issue will benefit the Black community.
Henson, who has been vocal about her personal struggles with depression and anxiety, will support her foundation’s fight to end the stigma of mental illness by publicly speaking during the Can We Talk? Conference and Benefit Dinner in Washington D.C. on June 7-9.
The Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce, led by New Jersey Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, was launched on April 30 and is dedicated to compiling research towards addressing the issue of Black youth suicide and creating better access to mental health.
“This is an incredible opportunity to address the people who can not only help shine a light on this devastating problem in our community, but who also have the power and resources to help us truly make a difference in young Black lives,” the star said in a statement.
“It is an honor to have the support and attention of members of Congress who are truly invested in working towards a solution,” she added.
Henson founded her nonprofit in 2018, naming it after her father, Boris Lawrence Henson, who struggled with mental health challenges as a result of his tour of duty in the Vietnam War.
The summit will kick off June 7 with a 300-person benefit dinner with a keynote address delivered by Dr. Altha J. Stewart, the first African-American to be named President of the American Psychiatric Association.
Proceeds from the benefit will go towards BLHF’s “You Got This!” Fundraising Campaign in an effort to support access to therapy for African-Americans who may not have the means to cover expenses.
The Oscar-nominated actress recently opened up to Variety about her own struggles, revealing the lack of Black mental health professionals is what pushed her to start her foundation.
“You can talk to your friends, but you need a professional who can give you exercises,” she said. “So that when you’re on the ledge, you have things to say to yourself that will get you off that ledge and past your weakest moments.”
Photo Credit: Variety