Taraji P. Henson Fights Mental Health Stigma

Taraji P. Henson is out to change the stigma about African Americans and mental health.

The famed actress, whose late father battled mental health issues after his tour of duty in the Vietnam War, has launched the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF) in his honor. Nationally, 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.

“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 Henson, a 1995 Howard University alumna. “African Americans have regarded such communication as a sign of weakness and our vision is to change that perception.”

BLHF has gathered key facts about African Americans and mental health, including:

• From 2006 to 2016, there were 242 African-American children between the ages of 5-12 who committed suicide. (Centers for Disease Control report)

• More than 705, 000 people in state prisons were reported to have mental issues in 2005. Fifty-four percent were African-American. (Bureau of Justice survey)

• There were 2,837 psychology doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens in 2008. Of those, 5.8 percent were awarded to African Americans and 76 percent were Caucasian. (American Psychological Association report)

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