Taraji P. Henson isn’t only an Academy Award-nominated actress and Golden Globe winner, she’s also the founder of the The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, a non-profit organization launched to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health issues in the black community.
Taraji was honored for her work at Variety’s Power of Women NY event last week, where she spoke about why she began the foundation, which honors her father, a Vietnam veteran who suffered with mental illness after returning.
“Our vision is to eradicate the stigma around mental health in the black community by breaking the silence and breaking a cycle of shame," Taraji said in a moving speech while accepting the honor.
She added, “The history of mental illness for black people in America stretches all the way back 400 years, 15 million people, and an ocean that holds the stories.”
In addition to speaking out about her mission, in an interview with Variety, Taraji was honest about her own personal struggles.
Taraji revealed, “I suffer from depression. My anxiety is kicking up even more every day, and I’ve never really dealt with anxiety like that. It’s something new.”
She also talked about how the pressures of fame, social media and lack of privacy affect her, saying, “I feel myself changing, and I don’t want to. It’s making me a little hard in a way. It’s making me a little agoraphobic, and I’ve never been, but I have anxiety sometimes when I just want to go outside, and I can’t. Somebody’s got to go with me.”
Taraji is an advocate for therapy, and explained, “If I’m going to change for the better, I need honesty, and sometimes your friends and family don’t have it in them to be brutally honest.”