By IVAN THOMAS-HICKS
Actress Taraji P. Henson has been dedicated to eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health in the Black community and eliminating the barriers standing in the way of support. The D.C. native recently received a major boost from Kevin Hart to advance her mission. Hart donated $100,000 to Henson’s mental wellness-focused nonprofit organization.
Hart and Henson recently sat down for a candid discussion on his new show Hart to Heart that was centered on her rise in the entertainment industry and how she has used her nonprofit the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation as an avenue to further her mental health advocacy efforts. Henson’s inspiration for the organization was derived from her personal experiences. While growing up she witnessed her father battle with psychological trauma that stemmed from serving in the Vietnam War. She has also been open about her struggles with depression and anxiety.
“It’s deep for us,” said Henson. “You’re talking about 400 years of oppression. So you’re talking about trauma that Black people have learned to normalize. We’ve been doing it for over 400 years. The strength is in vulnerability. The strength is in saying ‘I’m not okay today.’ The danger is trying to push through. The danger is continuing to cope with all of this compounded trauma that we have ensued and continue to endure.” Hart discussed the stigmatization of seeking support. “It’s frowned upon in our community and culture for some reason. It’s never supported from the beginning of the curiosity,” he added.
Since its inception in 2018, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation has led several impactful initiatives designed to eliminate socioeconomic barriers standing in the way of effective, culturally competent mental healthcare. Earlier this year, the nonprofit unveiled a program to help Black students who are facing mental health struggles that stem from racism. The project—dubbed the Unspoken Curriculum—is a six-week program for youth designed to cultivate safe spaces where students can have candid discussions about their experiences surrounding racial bias in school.