Talk about it: Actress Taraji P. Henson says ‘you can’t pray away’ mental health issues
You may be able to pray away some things, but a serious mental health issue isn’t one of them according to Academy Award-nominated actress, Taraji P. Henson.
The “Empire” star has officially launched The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health in the black community.
“In our community we don’t talk about it and that’s an issue,” said Henson during a Tuesday, Sep. 25 appearance on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club. Henson, who named her nonprofit organization after her late father, was inspired by her own son’s struggle with mental health issues after his father’s murder in 2003.
“My son’s father was murdered when he was nine. My father died two years later on me in the room. I saw the last look. I felt his body go cold. That’s traumatic. Those are things you can’t pray away,” said the 48-year-old.
She continued, “For so long we’ve been told, ‘Oh, just pray it away. Jesus gone take all your problems away.’ It’s not that simple.”
In an interview with Variety, the mental health advocate explained that when she sought help for herself and her son, she could not find any African-American therapists.
“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 demonized for expressing rage for traumas we’ve been through,” she said.
Henson added, “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?”
With her foundation, she’s hoping to change that.
“You might pray and God might say ‘Go see a therapist,’” pointed out Charlamagne, pointing out the fact that prayer and therapy just might go hand-in-hand.