Taraji P. Henson was inspired to “bring attention to the epidemic” of mental health struggles after seeing her late father battle PTSD.
Taraji P. Henson was inspired to “bring attention to the epidemic” of mental health struggles after seeing her father battle PTSD.
Boris Lawrence Henson died of cancer in 2006, but had previously been open about his struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following his term fighting in the Vietnam War.
And following his passing, his daughter Taraji set up the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018 to encourage others to openly discuss their mental health struggles, as well as provide people with the resources they need to tackle their problems head on.
The 49-year-old actress – who also suffered tragedy a few years before her father’s death, when the father of her 25-year-old son Marcell was murdered – said: “I needed to do something, I needed to bring attention to this epidemic. Our children are suffering, we are suffering. The numbers were alarming about the African-American youth suicide rate. Our children are killing themselves because they can’t cope. We needed to break the silence, and break the cycle.
“It was important for me to honour my father by launching the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, named after him, because I felt like it was something that needed to be done.”
As well as inspiring Taraji to speak out after struggling with his own mental health battle, the ‘Empire’ star says her father also encouraged her to share her “blessed” life with others.
Speaking to People magazine, she added: “My father always told me, ‘If you are blessed then it’s your job to go out to the world and bless someone else.’ If I have everything, what is everything if I can’t share it. People make the world go ’round. We need each other.”