Taraji P. Henson, star of Empire and Hidden Figures, has always been open about her experience with depression for a long time. The 49-year-old once told SELF, “I would get so low, really, really low, beaten, like never before. You may have those days you’re like, ‘Oh, I just don’t feel like getting out of bed…I was just starting to feel heavy a lot, suffocating…It just came out of nowhere.”
That’s why Henson founded The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF). The foundation is so named “in honor of Ms. Henson’s father, Boris Lawrence Henson, who suffered with mental health challenges as a result of his tour of duty in the Vietnam War,” according to the BLHF site.
The foundation hopes to offer better mental health support to black communities. But Henson more broadly wants to help anyone who suffers from mental illness.
BLHF and Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation to Address COVID Mental Health Crises
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation and the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation (TASF) plan to join forces to address mental health issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tupac Shakur, iconic late rapper, inspired his mother to found TASF after his death. TASF dedicates themselves to “raising awareness about the prevalence and connection between trauma and mental health and to provide people with resources needed to address the trauma and find mental wellness.”
How BLHF and TASF Plan to Help People During the Pandemic
According to Deadline, “in an effort to mitigate the stress of cost to access mental health services…BLHF has launched the COVID-19 Free Virtual Therapy Support Campaign to raise money for mental health services provided by licensed clinicians in their network. Individuals with life-changing stressors and anxiety related to COVID-19 will have the cost for up to five individual sessions defrayed on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds are committed or exhausted.”
“No one should suffer in silence,” Taraji P. Henson said. “Our vision is to change the perception of mental health in the black community. Together, we will make a difference. This is our legacy.”
On Giving Tuesday, which took place on May 5 this year, the two foundations launched the Matching Gift campaign together.
The Matching Gift campaign collected donations that will go to provide free access to mental health therapy for those struggling through the pandemic.
“It is my belief that in order to honor our ancestors and ourselves, we must look inwards; identify and interrogate the root causes of our traumas,” said Sekyiwa Shakur, who heads the TASF.
She continued, “What we as an organization wish to offer are observable steps to reach these goals and we are happy to partner with the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation to make a difference within the mental health community. I believe we are worth the effort.”