Taraji P. Henson opens up about her view regarding Mental Health to Congress. She addressed the increase in suicides among African American youth.
The Empire star, Taraji P. Henson expressed her point of view towards mental health by discussing her own battle with depression and anxiety.
Henson has been open about the issue as she spoke before the Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health. According to E!Online, Henson said, “I really don’t know how to fix this problem, I just know that the suicide rate is rising.”
A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics earlier this year showed that between 2007 and 2015, the annual ER visits related to suicide were by people between the ages of 5 to 18 years old. The results increased from 2.2 percent to 3.5 percent, and from 580,000 to 1.2 million.
Henson stated, “I just know that ages of the children that are committing suicide are getting younger and younger.”
Taraji P. Henson further elaborated by saying “It breaks my heart to know that 5-year-old children are contemplating life and death.”
She continued “I just…I’m sorry. That one is tough for me. So I’m here to appeal to you because this is a national crisis. When I hear of kids going into bathrooms, cutting themselves, you’re supposed to feel safe in school.”
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation
Henson is the founder of The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which is named after her deceased father. He was a Vietnam War veteran who suffered from mental health issues.
“I founded this foundation because there was a problem,” she said. “My father passed in ’06. Two years prior to that, my son’s father was murdered here in Washington D.C.”
Furthermore, Henson went on and said, “That’s trauma, not only for my son but for myself…it dawned on me the reason why we don’t have many psychiatrists…that they’re not easily accessible, is because we in the African-American community, we don’t deal with mental health issues.”
Speaking for the youth
During the Congressional hearing, Taraji P. Henson expressed her point of view by saying, “I’m here using my celebrity, using my voice, to put a face to this because I also suffer from depression and anxiety. ”
She continued on, “And if you’re a human living in today’s world, I don’t know how you’re not suffering in any way, I mean if you turn on the news, that’s PTSD right there. We need each other. ”
“This is me reaching across the table, trying to lend a helping hand in the best way I can. We have to save the children.”
“We don’t even talk about it,” she said. “We’ve been taught to pray our problems away, we’ve been demonized for coming out saying we have issues and we have trust issues. I need the person sitting opposite from me when I go seek help for my mental…to be culturally competent.”
In addition, she added, “We can’t give up on our kids and I think that’s where it starts,” she said. “I think we implement mental illness or mental health education in school. It needs to be a subject…we need to talk about it. The more we talk about it, the more people will feel they can talk about.”
The Empire star has been nominated for best actress at the BETAwards!