We’ve talked before about minorities and the various emotional struggles that certain ethnic groups face. But it is worth noting that the African-American community has some particularly high statistics when it comes to depression, anxiety and suicide. This fact was recently brought up by actress and mental health advocate Taraji P. Henson, who has vowed to bring more awareness to the issue.
Henson was honored at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon this past month in New York. During her acceptance speech, the Empire star zeroed in on the mental health message and its personal attachment to her life.
“The number of black children ages 5-12 who have died by suicide has doubled since the 1990s,” Henson told the reporters in the crowd. “This is a national crisis. My dad fought in the Vietnam War for our country, returned broken, and received little to no physical and emotional support. I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are black.”
Indeed, these issues affect African-Americans of all ages. Henson admitted that she too has struggled with mental illness and has now created a foundation (in her father’s name) to help battle stigmas within the black community. The Boris Henson Foundation officially got off the ground in 2018 and offers support, as well as therapy resources for anyone who reaches out.
The site also has some alarming facts pertaining to African-Americans and mental health. For example, it reports that one out of five U.S. black citizens suffers from some type of emotional struggle. They have also been singled out as one of the minority groups least likely to seek treatment. There are additional stats on incarcerations and the fact that over 300,000 jailed African-Americans were reported to have some type of mental issue.
Henson included an impassioned letter on the Henson Foundation page. As she explains to her followers, she wants to help change the narrative and encourage any African-Americans who are struggling to reach out and get help.
“This foundation is breaking the silence by speaking out and encouraging others to share their challenges with mental illness and get the help they need,” she wrote. “African-Americans have regarded such communication as a sign of weakness and our vision is to change that perception. I ask you to join me on this journey. This is our legacy. This is our chance to make a difference. Together, we will break the silence and break the cycle!”