Talking about mental health ‘taboo’ in African-American community: Taraji P Henson

Los Angeles:

Taraji P Henson opened up about stigma around mental health and said discussing one’s well-being in the African-American community is looked upon as a “weakness” and “taboo”.

The “Empire” star said the people in her community are “demonised” for sharing their traumatic experiences.

“It was like looking for a unicorn, 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 demonised 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?” Henson told Variety.

The actor was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of The Boris Lawrence HensonFoundation, her non-profit organisation, on Saturday.

The foundation, named after her father, focuses on erasing the stigma surrounding mental health issues, particularly in the African-American community.

Henson’s son struggled with mental healthafter his father was murdered in 2003 and the actor’s father died two years later.

She revealed when she started looking for a psychiatrist for her son, she wanted “someone that he could trust, someone that looks like him and could understand his struggle.”

The Golden Globe winner said that she has also sought mental health treatment and sees a psychiatrist herself.

“I’m here to tell you that when they tell cut and the cameras go away, I go home to real problems just like everybody else.”

Henson also said social causes need to have a celebrity attached to it to clear the “misconception” about famous people having it in all in control.

“We’re (not) perfect. Our kids aren’t perfect, we’re suffering and struggling just like the regular person and money doesn’t help. I thank God I can pay for the psychiatry bill but it doesn’t necessarily take away the problems,” she said.