Taraji P. Henson is Determined to Eradicate the Stigma Around Mental Health

Taraji P. Henson. Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (9671008gj)

There is a stigma about mental health but Taraji P. Henson wants to change that.

The Empire actress has opened up about her own struggle — in an attempt to reach others that there is nothing to be ashamed of.

“The misconception about celebrities [is] that we have it all together and we’re perfect, and we’re not. Our kids aren’t perfect, we’re suffering and struggling just like the regular person and money doesn’t help,” she said at the launch of her non-profit organization The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation.

The organization is named after her father who battled mental health challenges after serving in the Vietnam War.

Taraji’s 24-year-old son, Marcell, also developed mental health issues following the murder of his father in 2003.

“It was like looking for a unicorn,” she said of her search for an African-American psychiatrist who would understand what he was going through. “And the reason that happens is because we don’t talk about it in our community; it’s taboo, it’s looked upon as a weakness or we’re demonized for expressing rage for traumas we’ve been through. I have a lot of white friends and that’s what got me going. They say, ‘You don’t talk to anybody? Girl, I’m going to see my shrink every Thursday at 3 o’clock.’ So I was like why don’t we do that in our community?”

The 48-year-old raised money for the organisation by selling personal items from her closet at an event over the weekend.

The NPO’s first project will be to bring art to bathrooms in inner-city schools which are often graffitied with messages of bullying and hate.