Taraji P. Henson is on a mission.
In hopes of eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health in African-American communities, the actress just launched the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in honor of her late father. The organization will provide scholarships to African-American students majoring in mental health, offer mental health services to youth in urban schools and work to lower the recidivism rates of African-American men and women.
“I named the organization after my father because of his complete and unconditional love for me; his unabashed, unashamed ability to tell the truth, even if it hurt; and his strength to push through his own battles with mental health issues,” Henson said.
The Empire star chronicled her relationship with her father Boris, who died in 2006 at the age of 58 after battling liver cancer, in her 2016 memoir, Around the Way Girl. “My dad fought in the Vietnam War for our country, returned broken, and received little to no physical and emotional support,” she said. “I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are black.”
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Henson, who just got engaged in May, is celebrating the foundation’s launch with a fundraising event, Taraji’s Boutique of Hope, on Sept. 22 in Los Angeles. Funds raised for the foundation will help provide resources to increase mental health support in urban schools. BLHF will also partner with school districts help to provide mental health therapists, social workers and counselors to African-American children in need and other nonprofit organizations that offer mental health wellness programs as well.
“BLHF is breaking the silence by speaking out and encouraging others to share their challenges with mental illness and get the help they need,” said Tracie Jenkins, executive director for the foundation. “African-Americans have regarded such communication as a sign of weakness and our vision is to change that perception.”
For more information about BLHF, visit www.borislhensonfoundation.org.