Taraji P. Henson Opens Up About Her Battle with Depression and Anxiety
Taraji P. Henson founded the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation — named after her father — to eradicate the stigma around mental health in the African-American community
Taraji P. Henson is bravely speaking out about her struggles with depression and anxiety.
The Empire star, 48, spoke candidly about her struggles to Variety explaining, “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.”
While Henson’s acting career is at an all-time high — her film What Men Want hit theatres in February — she says fame has had a negative impact on her mental health.
“It was fun at first, but the older I get, the more private I want to be,” Henson explained to the outlet.
“I think there’s a misconception with people in the limelight that we have it all together, and because we have money now and are living out our dreams, everything is fine. That’s not the case. When they yell ‘Cut’ and ‘That’s a wrap,’ I go home to very serious problems. I’m still a real human.”
The Golden Globe-winning actress has since taken action and has gotten help.
“I talk to someone. I have a therapist that I speak to. That’s the only way I can get through it,” Henson told Variety.
“You can talk to your friends, but you need a professional who can give you exercises. So that when you’re on the ledge, you have things to say to yourself that will get you off that ledge and past your weakest moments.”
Henson also revealed she sees her therapist regularly. “It has to be regularly, and that’s what I learned. It gets frustrating because you’re waiting for them to fix you, but it’s not that easy.”
For Henson, speaking out about her battle with depression is personal.
In 2018, the actress created the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in honor of her father. Henson’s father was a Vietnam War vet, who also suffered from mental illness. He died in 2005.
Just two years before her father’s death, Henson’s ex-boyfriend William Lamar Johnson, the father of her son Marcell Johnson, was murdered.
After the two tragedies, Henson made it her mission to find her son a therapist. However, it wasn’t easy.
“When we started doing research and I started looking for a therapist that at least looked like him, so he could trust them, it was like looking for a unicorn,” Henson told Variety.
The scarcity of black mental health professionals is what pushed Henson to start her foundation. She also hopes to change the stigma around mental health in the black community.
“We’re walking around broken, wounded and hurt, and we don’t think it’s OK to talk about it,” Henson told Variety.
“We don’t talk about it at home. It’s shunned. It’s something that makes you look weak. We’re told to pray it away. Everyone was always asking me, ‘Do you have a charity?’ Well, dammit, this is going to be my calling, because I’m sick of this,” Henson said.
In February, Henson opened up to PEOPLE about raising her son, and the fears she faces as a mother.
“He has a really good heart. It’s just hard to know that the world can pick him out and turn him into a monster at any given moment,” she said.
“That’s what I fear, that’s something that I carry — I think every black mother does. All parents worry about their kids, but then when you see the news and you see people getting off for killing innocent children with no weapon it’s like, that doesn’t exempt my son.”
When she’s not raising awareness on anxiety and depression or being a doting mother to her son, Henson enjoys time with her fiancé former Super Bowl-winning NFL star Kelvin Hayden.
Last year, the lovebirds got engaged. Sharing a photo of her new diamond, Henson wrote, “I said yes y’all!!!”
Henson and Hayden, 34, first confirmed their romance back in December 2017.
During a special episode of ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! podcast, Henson teased, “I’m happy in my personal life. Finally it has happened to me!”