Taraji P. Henson wants to help “eradicate” the stigma against mental health.
Speaking at the Boutique of Hope celebrating the launch of The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, Henson told E! News why it’s important to be open about this topic in particular. The foundation was established by the Empire star and named after her father who suffered from PTSD after the Vietnam War. She explained that her father “wasn’t afraid to live in his truth” and spoke openly about his issues after the war.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” she told E! News. “Are you ashamed of a broken ankle? Are you ashamed of having to get a root canal?”
The What Men Want actress explained that the African American community must work especially hard to be more open about discussing mental health. “Passed down through the generations, you have to be strong. It’s weak if you speak upon a mental illness, or it’s demonized. That’s not healthy.”
Plus, it’s possible to get triggered just by powering on the TV. She continued, “If you turn on the news, anybody that’s human—it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Asian, whatever—that’s PTSD instantly.”
Henson emphasized that the time is now to “have an open dialogue” about it all. Attaching a celebrity face could help, too, she said. That way, a famous face could help illustrate, “I’m not perfect just because I’m a celebrity. I have issues and problems, and money doesn’t make them go away magically.”
The Cookie Lyons actress disclosed her own mental health routine. She told E! News that she sees her psychiatrist every other week, but will call her up other times when she’s feeling anxious. She mentioned another relatable occurrence: talking to her friends. She stopped doing that because “they’re not professionals.” She added, “They have too many stakes involved and they aren’t going to tell you the God-awful truth.”
In the end, she believes that it’s “healthier to get an objective opinion.”
Many other celebrities have spoken out about mental health and the importance of seeking help for it. In June, not long after the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, Lady Gaga said at a fundraiser, “I have struggled for a long time, both being public and not public about my mental health issues or my mental illness. But, I truly believe that secrets keep you sick.”