Starting the conversation to increase mental well being | NIH MedlinePlus Magazine

Starting the conversation to increase mental well being | NIH MedlinePlus Magazine

Taraji P. Henson &amp Tracie Jade.

Taraji P. Henson won the hearts of millions with her acting, singing, and writing. The award-winning star of the hit Television series “Empire” and acclaimed film “Hidden Figures” has now taken on a larger challenge. She’s a major advocate for enhanced mental well being care, specifically for individuals of colour. Henson talked with NIH MedlinePlus Magazine about her personal mental well being challenges and her efforts to bring about modify. 

What led you to use your voice and platform in this way?

As a privileged lady who can afford great well being care, I located it definitely complicated to locate a therapist for myself and my son. I named my most effective pal who has battled anxiousness her complete life and stated to her, “This is a problem. How can we improve the culture and community in a major way?” We came up with the concept of beginning the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation*, which focuses on enhanced mental well being care. It’s named for my father who was a Vietnam veteran and suffered from mental well being challenges following his service. 

The initially issue is to get individuals to speak about mental well being. That is why I decided to share my personal mental well being struggles. The neighborhood has observed my work as an actress for a extended time. I have a rapport with them, and they trust me. So, I began to speak out, and, confident sufficient, we began to see more and more individuals speaking about needing to take care of their mental well being. Now we have individuals motivated to speak about mental well being in a key way. It is a fantastic issue, but we have a extended way to go. 

You have been specially vocal about the stigma connected with mental well being and mental illness. 

Yes. We have to have to combat the stigma. And the initially issue we have to have to do is to make it typical to speak about our mental well being and how to work on our mental well being struggles. Especially coming off a pandemic that appears to in no way finish, we all have challenges. 

Seeing mental well being challenges addressed on Television and in motion pictures also is extremely useful in decreasing stigma. I enjoy the Television show “Dave.” In a single episode, they talked about the character living with and managing bipolar disorder. Someone who has been suffering in silence can see a show like that and go, “Oh my God, I’m not alone.” That is how you finish the stigma. You normalize it. 

Your Facebook Watch series “Peace of Mind with Taraji” requires on the concern of stigma amongst females of colour. 

I enjoy the series. After we launched the Foundation, I felt we weren’t reaching sufficient individuals. We necessary a show to attain individuals. We set up the show in a format that has a celebrity, yet another lady of colour, and a mental well being qualified. A well being care qualified is also there to make confident we can give the audience data on what they can do and exactly where they can go for enable. We wanted to show individuals how therapy definitely appears. It is just a conversation. I’m definitely proud of the show since individuals are watching it and becoming touched by it. To me this is the most essential work that I’m undertaking in my profession. 


Taraji P. Henson

Taraji P. Henson on the set of “Peace of Mind with Taraji”* with show co-host Tracie Jade.

Are you concerned individuals can not afford the care they have to have? 

Mental well being care really should be cost-effective and a lot easier to access. We also have to have to increase mental well being care services for these who are going by means of drug rehabilitation. A lot of individuals who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol have underlying mental well being challenges. They have to have enable addressing these challenges. 

You also have talked about the value of access to culturally competent mental well being experts.

Yes, a single cause a lot of Black individuals do not go to therapy is they do not really feel protected. A lot of mental well being challenges come from racism. So, when you have to bring that up in a area with a person who cannot relate, it is uncomfortable. And a massive cause why there’s a lack of African-American mental well being experts out there is that we do not even speak about mental well being challenges in our residences. We’ve got to modify that.

Millions of us have struggled for the duration of the pandemic. You have talked about your personal struggles for the duration of COVID-19, which includes suicidal ideation. 

I believe for the duration of the pandemic lots of individuals toyed with the concept of “should I live anymore?” It’s named suicidal ideation or thoughts of suicide. It does not imply you are going to go by means of with it. It is just a believed. Because I’m in therapy, and I have a psychiatrist, I have the tools. I knew that saying it, having it out of my head, and speaking about how to address it would make me really feel far better. If you preserve these thoughts  in, that believed may possibly turn into a strategy. And that is why I felt the have to have to share my knowledge. I do not want individuals to endure alone. I had so lots of individuals attain out to me right after I shared my story to say that they had the very same thoughts. And I had the chance to show them they could get enable. Humans have to have humans, and if you have a story to inform, inform it. 

What is your message to other individuals who are struggling with mental well being challenges?

You are not alone. There is no have to have for you to endure in silence. There is enable. There is often hope. The sun will often come out right after the storm. I do not care how poor items might appear proper now. If you can hold on for just yet another day, items will get far better. There are individuals out there who can enable and want to enable. 

What’s next for Taraji P. Henson, the actress?

I’m about to film the musical version of “The Color Purple.” I’m extremely excited about that!

* NIH was not involved in the creation of the project and reference to it does not constitute or imply endorsement by any federal agency.


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